The Patriot League has become the second NCAA Division I conference to announce that it will cancel its fall athletics season as a result of uncertainty with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The ruling exempts Navy and the Army-West Point programs “because (they) are unique in their environments and their missions within higher education.”
The league, which includes 10 schools in the Northeastern United States, joins the Ivy League, which made a similar announcement last week.
Decisions relating to winter sports, like swimming & diving, and spring sports will be made at a later date.
Patriot League Announced Plan for Athletics
- Patriot League teams will not engage in competition in the fall season (championship and non-championship);
- Decisions surrounding winter and spring sport competition will be made at a later date; and,
- The opportunity for conditioning, strength training and other practice opportunities in all sports will be permitted provided health and safety conditions support such activities.
Significantly, Army-West Point is independent in football and Navy competes in the American Athletic Conference in football, meaning the cancellation only applies to the 8 programs that participate in Patriot League football.
This is significant as Patriot League schools, like many mid-majors, have taken big financial hits as a result of the Big Ten and Pac-12 announcing that they won’t play any non-conference sporting games in several sports, including football, in 2020. Mid-major programs derive significant revenue from traveling to play against Power 5 programs.
While more cancellations are expected to come, Army’s current schedule includes only one team, Princeton, that has announced it won’t be playing this fall. Navy doesn’t have any opponents on their 2020 schedule yet that have said they won’t play.
One men’s varsity water polo program, Bucknell, will be impacted by the decision. The Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) says that they have been notified that Bucknell will not compete this fall. Navy also fields a men’s water polo team, which should be able to compete.
The Bucknell men finished last season with a 23-9 record last season, including 7 wins against top 20 opponents. The team advanced to the NCAA tournament, beating #9 Harvard 13-12 in the opening round before losing to #2 USC 15-9 in the national quarterfinals. Bucknell finished the season ranked #10 in the CWPA men’s national varsity poll.
Bucknell is also the defending MAWPC conference champions.
In swimming, the Navy men have won the last 17 consecutive league titles, while the women have won 10 consecutive titles.