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In Unprecedented Move, Ivy League Cancels Athletics, Sidelines Harvard Players

The Ivy League cancelled forthcoming events due to the novel coronavirus pandemic Wednesday.
The Ivy League cancelled forthcoming events due to the novel coronavirus pandemic Wednesday. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Ema R. Schumer, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard athletes will not suit up for another practice or game this academic year as a result of Wednesday’s decisive decision by the eight Ivy League university presidents to cancel all athletics events due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The league’s decision to stop athletics from proceeding marked an end to roughly 30 hours of uncertainty for many of Harvard’s student-athletes.

Harvard administrators informed College students in a series of emails Tuesday morning that they must move out of their dorms by Sunday at 5 p.m. for an indefinite period of time to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. On Tuesday, the Ivy League also made alterations to its schedule — including canceling the Ivy League basketball tournament and imposing crowd regulations at competitions — but stopped short of axing all athletics events.

As a result, Harvard athletes who are on spring sports teams or were slated to take part in postseason competitions lived in limbo, wondering whether the University-imposed deadline to move out applied to them.

Though Wednesday’s decision offered answers to those questions, it also frustrated athletes who are now barred from playing their sport.

Barred athletes include Harvard track and field athletes Anna M. Juul ’21, Kieran C. Tuntivate ’20, and Abbe E. Goldstein ’21 — all of whom qualified for but will not be allowed to compete in the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championship scheduled to take place in Albuquerque, N.M. this weekend.

Juul, who qualified for the mile with a time of 4:37.50, said she was at Harvard’s track with her bags packed Wednesday afternoon ready to leave for the airport when her coach broke the news that she would not be allowed to race.

“It was probably one of the more emotional days I've had. Of course this has been a tough week for everyone on campus,” she said. “For me and my teammates, we poured so much of our time and energy into this. It was something I was really looking forward to.”

Tuntivate — who was scheduled to compete in the men’s 3000 meter race and the mile race — wrote in a text message that he felt “gutted.”

Tuntivate also said in an interview that his absence from the championship meet could negatively impact his desire to run professionally. He explained that the tournament is an important barometer for talent.

Tuntivate broke the Harvard all-time record in the men’s mile last month with a finish of 3:57.36, the second fastest time in Ivy League all-time records.

The Ivy League’s decision left it up to individual schools to decide if their winter sport student-athletes could compete in postseason competitions. Harvard Athletics Director Robert L. Scalise wrote in an email to coaches and department staff that Harvard’s athletes would not partake in these games.

“We understand the disappointment that will be felt by many of you and many in our community, but we must be guided by what is best for the health and safety of all,” he wrote.

Juul said she did not understand Harvard’s decision to not let her run.

“I do understand to a certain extent why the University and the Ivy League as a whole chose to cancel spring sports, as heartbreaking as it is,” she said. “I don't understand why they are not allowing us to compete one last time for the winter season.”

Tuntivate said he had been emailing top administrators in the University and NCAA requesting they reinstate him. As of Wednesday evening, he said no one had replied.

—Staff writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emaschumer.

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