The Patriot League announced Monday it would be shutting down its fall sports participation, following the Ivy League’s decision to keep its student-athletes at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. Notably, however, the league will allow the United States Military Academy and United States Naval Academy to play fall sports.
“The collegiate athletics experience at all Patriot League institutions is valuable to fulfilling our educational and developmental missions,” the release posted to the Patriot League website and signed by the Patriot League Council of Presidents says. “The league recognizes that any degree of non-competition this fall is deeply disappointing to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans. However, the health and safety of our campuses and communities must be our highest priority.”
Comprised primarily of smaller private institutions in the northeast, the Patriot League does not participate in the Football Bowl Subdivision – save for West Point and Annapolis. Army operates an independent schedule, while Navy is a member of the American Athletic Conference for football-only. Both military academies carry requirements for matriculated students to participate in athletics as a part of their education, which could pair up with the desires to honor football commitments outside of the Patriot League schedule to justify the exemption from the league-wide pause.
Army has Bucknell on its schedule as well as Princeton, leaving it with ten games remaining on its schedule that have yet to be impacted by conference closures. Navy has not seen any of its 2020 opponents impacted by current conference changes, however it did lose a scheduled trip to Ireland to take on Notre Dame, as the schools opted to cancel plans to hold that contest in Dublin. The biggest game of the year for both is their annual rivalry game, scheduled for December 12 in Philadelphia.
For the rest of the league, sports are on hold for the time being. In its announcement, the league said it is “committed to exploring creative approaches and alternatives to providing future competitive experience” for impacted student-athletes, including playing fall sports in the spring. But that – along with the plans for whether or not winter or spring sports will play on time – will be announced at a later date.