The Big Five is gonna be more like the Big Four this season, because Penn is not playing basketball.

The Ivy League cancelled all Winter Sports on Thursday night, becoming the first division one conference to do so.

Here’s their rationale:

“Consistent with its commitment to safeguard the health and wellbeing of student-athletes, the greater campus community and general public, the Ivy League Council of Presidents has decided that league schools will not conduct intercollegiate athletics competition in winter sports during the 2020-21 season. In addition, the Ivy League will not conduct competition for fall sports during the upcoming spring semester. Lastly, intercollegiate athletics competition for spring sports is postponed through at least the end of February 2021.
The unanimous decisions by the Ivy League Council of Presidents follow extended consideration of options and strategies to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, an analysis of current increasing rates of COVID-19 – locally, regionally and nationally – and the resulting need to continue the campus policies related to travel, group size and visitors to campus that safeguard the campus and community.” 

It’s a bummer for the Penn Quakers, who went 16-11 last year before the season was cut short right before they were scheduled to play Yale in the semifinals of the Ivy League tournament. They had won three straight games and were carrying momentum into that game against the league’s #1 seed. In the regular season they took out Providence, Temple, La Salle, and Alabama, and were competitive with Villanova and Arizona.

Back in March, the Ivy was the first league to cancel its conference tournaments, and it was also the first to postpone fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The story now is whether other conferences follow suit, or attempt to play their season as numbers spike in mid-November and likely though December as well.

Fingers crossed, but it looks ominous. Darkening clouds on the horizon, perhaps.