NCAA Mens Basketball

Ivy League cancels basketball tournaments due to coronavirus concern, shows hypocrisy: opinion

Jerry Carino, Asbury Park Press Published 12:16 p.m. ET March 10, 2020 | Updated 5:18 p.m. ET March 10, 2020

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The Ivy League likes to pound its chest about virtue and perspective when it comes to sports.

On Tuesday, when it canceled the Ivy League men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the league’s brass gave everyone a lesson in hypocrisy.  

Citing “the guidance of public health and medical professionals to discourage and limit large gatherings on campuses in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation,” Ivy League executive director Robin Harris issued a press release saying, “We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments.

“Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision.”

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Princeton coach Mitch Henderson

Princeton coach Mitch Henderson

 (Photo: Kirby Lee, Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

In the same press release, the league announced that its regular-season champions, the Princeton women and Yale men, are the automatic qualifiers to the NCAA Tournaments. 

So let’s get this straight: It’s not safe enough to hold the four-team Ivy League tourneys, but it’s OK to send Yale’s men and Princeton’s women to the 68-team NCAA tournaments, which will draw much larger crowds?

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Allow a translation: This isn’t really about health concerns. It’s about covering the league’s rear end. It’s not about the student-athletes. It’s about Harris and the league presidents being able to say, “Not our problem.”

This half-measure is a slap in the face to the other teams that qualified for the four-team tournaments. It’s a shame for Princeton’s men, who have been playing well and gave Yale and second-seeded Harvard all they could handle in recent regular-season matchups. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Tigers’ seniors.

“I am extremely disappointed for our student-athletes who will not have the opportunity to continue their careers as Princeton Tigers,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said in a statement. “This is an emotional time for all involved with Princeton men’s basketball, especially our seniors — Jose (Morales), Will (Gladson) and Richmond (Aririguzoh). They have been outstanding representatives of our program, I am heartbroken that they will not have another opportunity to compete on a national stage for our university.”

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Their season is done because of fears of a pandemic, while the league sends out its two champions onto the national stage with a pat on the head and a box of disinfectant wipes.

Education:  NJ colleges that have canceled classes, activities

It should be noted that a bunch of Ivy League schools have canceled classes or extended spring break in the hope of riding out the virus’ spread.

At least one class took place Tuesday, at Ivy League headquarters.

Hypocrisy 101 was in session. 

Rutgers Scarlet Knights fans cheer during the first half at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).Rutgers Scarlet Knights forward Shaq Carter (13)celebrates with fans after defeating the Maryland Terrapins at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Myles Johnson (15) celebrates with fans after defeating the Maryland Terrapins at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).Feb 19, 2020; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights fans cheer before the start of game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Michigan Wolverines at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Paul Mulcahy (4) and guard Ron Harper Jr. (24) celebrate after defeating the Illinois Fighting IlliniRutgers Scarlet Knights forward Akwasi Yeboah (1) grabs a loose ball against Northwestern Wildcats forward A.J. Turner (21)Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Geo Baker (0) celebrates with fans after defeating the Nebraska CornhuskersThe student section inside the Rutgers Athletic Center has been akey factor in the Scarlet Knights' success at home this season.Rutgers guard Ron Harper Jr. reacts to the crowd during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Penn StateJan 28, 2020; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Ron Harper Jr. (24) pauses with teammates during a moment of silence for Kobe Bryant before game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Ron Harper Jr. (24) raises the Garden State Hardwood Classic trophy after defeating the Seton Hall Pirates at Rutgers Athletic Center.Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Geo Baker (0) dunks against the Indiana Hoosiers during the second half at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).General view of Rutgers Scarlet Knights mascot during the first half of the college basketball game between the Purdue BoilermakersRutgers guard Jacob Young celebrates with fans after Rutgers defeated Penn StateRutgers Scarlet Knights forward Shaq Carter (13), Rutgers Scarlet Knights forward Akwasi Yeboah (1), Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Caleb McConnell (22), Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Montez Mathis (23) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Ron Harper Jr. (24) against IndianaNebraska guard Dachon Burke Jr. (11) drives to the basket against Rutgers guard Geo BakerRutgers Scarlet Knights forward Akwasi Yeboah (1) blocks a shot by Penn State Nittany Lions forward John Harrar (21) during the first half at Rutgers Athletic Center.(Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Ron Harper Jr. (right) passes the ball away from Penn State Nittany Lions forward Mike Watkins (24)

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Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball beat since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at jcarino@gannettnj.com.

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