Ivy League basketball players are upset after the league announced it has canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which were scheduled for this coming weekend, citing fears about the coronavirus.
“With the health of students as well as the campus and the general community in mind, the Ivy League Presidents have decided to cancel the upcoming Ivy League Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments,” the league announced on its website Tuesday.
“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said.
“Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision,” Harris added.
As a result, the league said that its “regular-season champions, Princeton women and Yale men, are the automatic qualifiers to the NCAA Tournaments.”
The means that the Yale men’s team is going to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, with Harvard not even having a chance to make its case that it should represent the league in the Big Dance.
This is particularity significant because the Harvard Crimson sit just one loss behind the Yale Bulldogs in league play.
On Saturday, Harvard bludgeoned Yale on the court by a score of 83-69, according to ESPN.
The Crimson went 2-0 against Yale on the season and will end the 2019-2020 season with a league record of 10-4. Yale, meanwhile, ends its season with a league record of 11-3.
Harvard players are understandably upset that the bid has been handed to Yale, and it’s easy to understand that frustration.
Crimson guard Bryce Aiken shared his disappointment on Twitter:
Horrible, horrible, horrible decision and total disregard for the players and teams that have put their hearts into this season. This is wrong on so many levels and the @IvyLeague should do its due diligence to find a better solution. Everyone knows the risks of playing! https://t.co/HQXprzX9q6
— Bryce Aiken (@BryceAiken) March 10, 2020
So did Seth Towns, a senior who played for Harvard in 2016-17 and 2017-18 before injuries derailed his college career. (Towns is still listed on the men’s basketball roster, though he’ll graduate in May before likely playing for another school next season as a graduate transfer.)
This is mayhem
— Seth 💤 (@seth_towns17) March 10, 2020
Other Ivy League players were upset as well, including University of Pennsylvania women’s team forward Liz Satter, who shared on Twitter a Change.org petition titled “Reinstate the Ivy League Tournament.”
Please sign this petition to reinstate the 2020 Ivy League Basketball Tournaments. My teammates, and the other athletes on these teams, deserve the chance to compete in this tournament.https://t.co/caJhbCruAR#ivyleague #NCAABasketball
— Liz Satter (@liz_satter) March 10, 2020
“The hypocrisy of our Ivy League presidents is baffling and alarming. We are disappointed and disheartened that they would discriminate against one sport and allow the others to continue to compete,” reads the petition, which had more than 4,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We feel the decision to cancel the tournament was made without enough serious consideration for the student athletes and the investments that have been made up to this point in our season. “
Harvard, for its part, may very have once again defeated the Bulldogs and taken the league’s NCAA tournament bid.
Nobody will ever know what could have happened from there.
USA Today columnist Dan Wolken shared a statement from the NCAA about the coronavirus and league tournaments on Twitter:
Statement from NCAA, presumably in response to Ivy League cancelling tournament pic.twitter.com/KwBm9KQguC
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 10, 2020
As Wolken noted, the statement was “presumably in response to Ivy League cancelling tournament.”
It seems a bit reactionary for the Ivy League to cancel the entire basketball tournament when there were other alternatives, such as playing the games with no fans present.
The BBC reported Tuesday that all sports activities in Italy have been suspended until at least April 3.
Thus far, those who have succumbed to the virus have generally been elderly people with pre-existing health conditions, and not healthy young people, such as physically conditioned athletes.
The conference tournaments are as much a part of March Madness as the NCAA tournament. It is thus unfortunate to see officials at the Ivy League cancel the upcoming tournament.
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