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What I Learned – Patriot League cancels college football, all fall sports due to COVID-19

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The Patriot League announced Monday it will not play fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.The conference said it will reach decisions on winter and spring sports at a later date and practices and strength training will be permitted if “health and safety conditions support such activities.””The collegiate athletics experience at all Patriot League institutions is valuable to fulfilling our educational and developmental missions, and 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,” the conference said in a statement.”The League is committed to exploring creative approaches and alternatives to providing future competitive experiences to our fall sport student athletes, including the possibility of conducting fall sports competition and championships in the second semester.”The conference added that Army and Navy, which are non-football members of the conference, “are unique in their environments” and “the academies may continue to engage in competitive opportunities as considered appropriate by their respective Superintendents.”The Patriot League’s decision marks the first cancellation by an FCS league that competes in the FCS playoffs. The league’s announcement comes less than a week after the Ivy League voted to postpone all fall sports, with no date set for resuming the conference’s athletic events.The cancellation of college football games at the highest subdivision of the sport was expected to begin when the Patriot League announced protocols in late June for the return of fall sports. The protocols, which excluded overnight travel for most competitions, created speculation that the conference’s seven members were unlikely to play at least some of their non-conference football games.The Patriot’s slate of football games against FBS opponents included Colgate at Western Michigan and Bucknell at Army on Sept. 4; Lafayette at Navy and Fordham at Hawaii on Sept. 12 and Colgate at Syracuse Sept. 19.The conference’s cancellation will also bring an end to the long-standing Lafayette-Lehigh game, known as The Rivalry, which has been played every year since 1896. Many questions remain about the future of the 2020 college football season. Last week, the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they will play conference-only schedules in the fall. On Saturday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey voiced his concerns about the upcoming football season and said, “We are running out of time to correct and get things right.”The SEC does not plan to make a decision on its football schedule until late July, although the conference has summoned its 14 athletic directors to meet in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday to discuss the fall sports schedule. Sources told Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger that the meeting has been planned for at least two weeks and is not in response to virus-related shutdown news Thursday across college football. The Big 12 and the ACC also anticipate a decision by late July.

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