The Patriot League will not play sports in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Monday’s announcement, the league also said that a decision on winter sports will be made at a later date and that practice, conditioning and strength training will be permitted if “health and safety conditions support such activities.”
The U.S. Military Academy and Naval Academy are exempt from the cancellation, and any decisions on their participation in competitive sports will be made by their superintendents.
“From a health and well-being standpoint, things are not getting better in this country,” Patriot League commissioner Jennifer Heppel told ESPN. “As we get closer to the point where students are going to be making plans to how they travel back to our campuses as well as student-athletes, it became clear for us that this wasn’t going to be in the best interest of our communities to have athletics this fall. That’s the decision that had been made. It’s incredibly disappointing for our student athletes and our coaches, and it’s not a decision anybody is feeling good about. It’s sad. It’s gut-wrenching.”
A source told ESPN that all options, including a spring football season, are on the table for when the conference would resume sports competition.
Heppel said the league is focused on getting students back into a learning environment.
“We’ve got to focus on the higher ed part of this, as opposed to the athletics part of it, which is an incredibly important part,” she said.
The decision comes on the heels of the Ivy League canceling its fall sports last week.
The Big Ten and the Pac 12 conferences both announced last week that they would be playing conference-only schedules this football season.
The ACC and SEC have yet to make decisions regarding scheduling.
SEC athletic directors are meeting in-person at the conference offices in Birmingham, Alabama, on Monday.
Over the weekend, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said that its deadline to reach a decision is late-July but acknowledged that “we are running out of time to correct and get things right.”
“We put a medical advisory group together in early April with the question, ‘What do we have to do to get back to activity?’ and they’ve been a big part of the conversation,” Sankey said during an interview on Marty & McGee on ESPN Radio on Saturday. “But the direct reality is not good and the notion that we’ve politicized medical guidance of distancing, and breathing masks, and hand sanitization, ventilation of being outside, being careful where you are in buildings. There’s some very clear advice about — you can’t mitigate and eliminate every risk, but how do you minimize the risk? … We are running out of time to correct and get things right, and as a society we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be.”