By Ken Reed

The Ivy League, often called the “Ancient Eight” due to the long tradition-rich history of its member schools, revealed its ancient mindset in a ruling last week when it disallowed spring athletes who lost their senior seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic from being eligible to compete next year.

Now mind you, the NCAA, of which the Ivy League is a member, ruled that seniors who play in spring sports wiped out by COVID-19 can return next year to complete their final year of eligibility.  Also, note that the 31 other NCAA athletic conferences have agreed to let senior spring athletes come back next year.

Not the Ivy League.

The Ivy League has always liked to do things their own way, which sometimes has been good and sometimes bad.  They don’t allow athletic scholarships for their Division I athletes.  There are positives and negatives to that rule.

Conference administrators rightly took the lead in football when they eliminated all full contact work during in-season practices in order to protect the brains of the league’s players.

However, in this case, the Ivy League got it terribly wrong when they ruled the league’s senior spring athletes — who lost their final seasons when the NCAA shut down all spring sports due to the pandemic — would not be eligible to make that missed season up next year.

Can’t the Ivy League recognize the uniqueness of this pandemic situation and be flexible with their rules in the short-term?

Since the Ivy League doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, they don’t even have to worry about budget factors like the other NCAA conferences who have to split their scholarship money among more athletes next year because incoming freshmen will be joined by returning seniors.

One of the positives from this pandemic is watching the human spirit at work.  Kindness has been making a comeback.  Individuals and companies have been creatively helping those hurt by the coronavirus.

The NCAA, an organization that has never been accused of consistently doing right by its athletes, got it right in this case.  They announced quickly that senior spring athletes would be allowed to return next year to finish their eligibility.

The Ivy League got it all wrong.

The Ivies are supposed to be a collection of the smartest universities in the country.  That might be true, but they were very dumb in making this decision.

It not only lacks common sense, it lacks heart.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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