Four months ago, the Ivy League was ahead of the curve.
On March 10, it canceled its men's and women's basketball conference tournaments because of growing concern about the coronavirus. Two days later, after the Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA paused its season, the rest of college basketball – and the sports world – followed suit.
In the immediate aftermath of the Ivy League's decision, the conference caught flack for what some thought was a hasty decision.
It turned out to be prescient. And now, it begs the question: Is the Ivy League once again foreshadowing what's to come?
The eight-school league took another pioneering step amid the pandemic Wednesday, canceling its fall sports seasons and putting a moratorium on all sports until at least the end of the fall semester. It means no football season, at least in the traditional sense. It also means that if a college basketball season begins on schedule, Ivy League schools would likely miss at least the nonconference portion.
The Ivy League Council of Presidents made its stance clear in a statement: Safety matters most.
"With the information available to us today regarding the continued spread of the virus, we simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk, consistent with the policies that each of our schools is adopting as part of its reopening plans this fall," the eight Ivy League presidents said in a joint statement.
"We are entrusted to create and maintain an educational environment that is guided by health and safety considerations. There can be no greater responsibility – and that is the basis for this difficult decision."
The Ivy League being the first to take this step makes sense. As an FCS conference that doesn't even participate in the football postseason, the Ivy League doesn't rely on football revenue the way many power-conference universities do. In the near future, it'll be interesting to see if the Ivy League's decision affects how other FCS conferences handle their fall sports. Already, the Patriot League announced it would return athletes to campus at the same time as other students and would not fly to games. Fordham, a Patriot League member in football, canceled its first three games Tuesday.
But while conferences like the SEC, the Big Ten, and the Big 12 have more to think about in terms of revenue, the Ivy League's decision is a reminder of what matters. While the Ivy League might not have a direct influence on college football's top-tier programs, its line of thinking should rub off.
Whether or not the Ivy League pursues a spring football season remains to be seen. In a news release, the conference said it would make a decision on the remaining calendar for winter and spring sports, as well as whether any fall sport would be feasible in the spring, at a later date.