After significant speculation in recent weeks, the Ivy League made a major announcement: All fall sports would be cancelled for 2020, including football (first reported by Jon Rothstein).
We don’t know if that means football is happening in spring instead, or will just be cancelled until fall 2021. But we do know that when combined with recent cancellations from Patriot League squads, an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. and issues around positive tests at FBS camps, this coming season is very much in peril — at least as it’s currently written.
The Ivy cancellations won’t affect Syracuse Orange football. However, they’ll likely create issues for other fall sports and non-conference schedules for winter sports like men’s and women’s basketball as well. SU’s men’s basketball team has faced nearby Ivy member Cornell every year since 2013, and 125 times in program history. If the overall college basketball schedule is not adjusted to be confined to the spring, that game is now off the board.
Where Orange football could be affected is if these Ivy cancellations lead to other conferences axing fall sports as well. The Patriot League has already created protocols that put Syracuse’s week three game against Colgate in doubt, and the Raiders have already cancelled their own season opener at Western Michigan.
We haven’t yet heard whether the Patriot League will follow suit and cancel fall sports, but if they do, SU probably needs to know who they can replace Colgate with (again, assuming the schedule actually happens as written).
Ivy cancellations have created week three open dates for Bryant, Bucknell, VMI and Holy Cross already. Patriot League cancellations would leave William & Mary also looking for opponents in week three (while removing Bucknell from this list of available foes).
If we start seeing more FCS conferences push or cancel seasons, though, the questions then move on to whether the FBS follows along. As a source told Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, Ivy League schools are in better financial shape to move or cancel football than most FBS schools, so it’s no guarantee we see the same moves around the country.
From my own viewpoint, it does seem like FBS teams and conferences could be set on season to some extent, even if it’s without fans and potentially adjusted to be league games only with no fans in attendance. I still don’t think that solves a lot in terms of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 or protecting players, necessarily. It does keep TV revenues around, though, which is a critical concern for most FBS schools given the importance football plays in their financial well-being.
We don’t know what’s going to happen next at all. But it does increasingly seem like the schedule has to be altered in some way. Splitting the schedule between fall and spring semesters could be a reasonable alternative, as could pushing everything ‘til spring. In any case, we’re still nowhere near done with this evolving conversation.