Harvard, Princeton to not start 2021 season until March at earliest

Photo courtesy of Princeton athletics

Harvard and Princeton at best will have delayed starts to their 2021 seasons.

The Ivy League announced Thursday that it has canceled all winter sports and postponed all spring sports until at least the end of February because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ivy League Council of Presidents unanimously voted for the postponement of all athletic events because of the continued spread of the coronavirus. There already have been more than 10 million cases and 241,069 deaths in the United States because of the virus, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Throughout the last nine months, we have asked our campus communities to make extraordinary adjustments in order to do our part in combating the global pandemic and to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty members, staff and the communities in which they live and work,” the Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a joint statement. “Regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to intercollegiate athletics competition in a safe manner.”

The council will continue to monitor the pandemic and evaluate any new policies or additional postponements regarding spring sports.

Despite the men’s volleyball regular season starting in January, the NCAA considers it a spring sport in part because its national championship is played in May.

Both Harvard and Princeton are the only Ivy League schools with men’s volleyball programs and compete in the EIVA.

A delayed start for the two teams season could create some scheduling challenges for the EIVA, commissioner Russ Yurk told Off the Block on Thursday.

“At this point the postponement impacts the EIVA conference schedule,” Yurk said. “We’re looking at a number of options and are hopeful all of our student-athletes are able to compete this season.”

Princeton remains the defending EIVA championship and was in second place in the conference when the 2020 season was canceled because of the pandemic. The Tigers also have multiple starters remaining on their roster from their 2019 team that reached the NCAA Tournament for the program’s first time in 21 years.

Harvard won the 2018 EIVA championship and ended the shortened 2020 season in fifth place in the EIVA.