One thing is for certain. The Ivy League is not afraid to take on a leadership role, even when it comes to collegiate athletics. Some of the highest profile academic institutions in the country are making their voices heard on the safety of moving forward during a pandemic.
The Ivy League was the first conference back in March to cancel their basketball tournament, and within two days, all other conferences and the NCAA Tournament followed suit. On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced they are postponing all fall sports until at least January 1, 2021 - including football. The conference did not set a date for resuming athletic events.
How might their decision affect programs like Ohio State?
The best answer is that it's still too early to tell and it doesn't necessarily mean the college football season will be canceled for the big schools. Several Power 5 conference commissioners and athletic directors told ESPN's Heather Dinich that the Ivy League's decision would be closely monitored, but it wouldn't immediately mean they would follow suit. But this news is obviously not a great sign and it's very likely a decision to play football this fall will come before the end of the month.
It's important to understand the distinction between March Madness and the College Football Playoff. Any decision to postpone or cancel the football season will likely need to come at the conference level, because unlike March Madness, the NCAA does not control the College Football Playoff. Individual leagues are left to make their own decisions, although they are certainly capable of coordinating a decision if they come to a mutual agreement. It's possible that the Power 5 leagues could make a joint decision.
In other words, the rest of college athletics doesn't have to follow in the Ivy League's footsteps. But they are certainly working together to come up with the best course of action.
The Ivy League is Division I, but it's football teams compete in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and none of those programs are eligible for the College Football Playoff. They aren't revenue generating sports in the same traditional sense that a football program at a Power 5 school is. But often times, schools in FCS play one game each year against an FBS program for which they receive a financial guarantee. That guarantee alone can be a significant portion of an FCS schools' athletic department operating budget.
While they might still be rumors at this point, there has been plenty of speculation that university presidents at Power 5 schools don't want to be the first ones to act. But many of them are friends and colleagues with their counterparts at high-profile academic institutions. By allowing those smaller schools to act first, it can allow for decision-makers at some of the NCAA powerhouses to soften the blow if they're forced to fall in line and postpone fall athletics.
It's easy to think things are changing at the snap of a finger. On Tuesday, Notre Dame football announced they conducted 103 CoVID-19 tests and did not have a single positive result.
Their "bubble" is working.
But on Wednesday, Stanford announced they are cutting 11 Olympic sports programs after the 2020-2021 academic year because of the loss of revenue associated with the pandemic.
Many mid-major programs around the country have already announced they are cutting programs, but Stanford is the first Power 5 school to make that decision. If that isn't eye-opening to how deep the financial disaster caused by the coronavirus runs, I'm not sure what is.
Its my opinion that every effort will be made to play some semblance of football this year. Every school in the country is feeling the effects of budget cuts and no revenue from football season would be catastrophic. I don't think every school will play the same number of games and I think many non-conference games that require lengthy travel will eventually be canceled. But I remain hopeful that college football will happen in some fashion in 2020.