Players Furious After Ivy League Mars March Madness by Canceling Tourney Over Coronavirus


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.”

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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.

Do you think the Ivy League overreacted by canceling this year's basketball tournament?

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:

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.)

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Other Ivy League players were upset as well, including University of Pennsylvania women’s team forward Liz Satter, who shared on Twitter a petition titled “Reinstate the Ivy League Tournament.”

“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:

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.

But people are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, and there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding how it will affect those infected.

The BBC reported Tuesday that all sports activities in Italy have been suspended until at least April 3.

Other professional sports leagues in areas hit hard by the virus have decided to play their games with no fans in the stands, according to The Associated Press.

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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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.