The Patriot League Council of Presidents announced July 13 that the league will not be holding athletic competitions in the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgetown University’s football and women’s rowing programs normally compete in the Patriot League during the fall season, putting the status of their seasons in jeopardy.
Speculation about the future of athletics has been a point of concern since the university first announced its fall operational plans July 6, which only included housing about 2,000 students on campus and made no mention of the status of student-athletes. Amid speculation about whether student-athletes would receive special permission to live on campus to practice or compete, the university is collaborating in its decision with the leagues in which its teams compete. The Big East Conference, in which the remainder of Georgetown’s varsity athletic programs competes, has given no word on its fall operational status.
On July 8, the Ivy League announced its decision to cancel all fall athletic competition to contain the spread of the coronavirus, making it the first major athletic conference to do so. The Patriot League is the second Division I athletic conference to follow suit.
“The current global pandemic has required us to adapt to the world around us, and our priority remains the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed said in an interview with GUHoyas. “Today, the Patriot League announced the decision to not engage in competition for the fall season. This conference-wide decision will impact our football and women’s rowing programs. Words cannot express the sadness I feel who have worked tirelessly to achieve their dreams. We will continue to support them through these difficult times and remain steadfast and committed to preparing for when we can all safely return to the Hilltop.”
Despite the disappointment of the fall season’s cancellation, Georgetown football Head Coach Rob Sgarlata acknowledged the potential for the team to continue to train this fall or into the spring in anticipation of a delayed season.
“We will always work to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and their families. I am extremely proud of how our student-athletes and staff have worked to advance the academic and athletic goals of the program during these extremely challenging times,” Sgarlata said in an interview with The Hoya. “Our senior class has and will continue to lead our program as we work to continually improve each day. We hope to have additional information regarding when we will be able to return to play over the next few months. I view this time as a great opportunity for our program to chase our one percent improvement each day. When we are allowed to return to the playing field, we will be ready.”
Many schools around the NCAA are speculating that several other leagues may be delaying or canceling their fall athletic competition. The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced last week that they will not play nonconference football games in an effort to limit travel. With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, many schools that have brought athletes back to campus have struggled to contain the spread of the coronavirus, even with preventative measures in place. Several Division I programs, including Ohio State, Houston, Boise State, Arizona and North Carolina, were forced to send athletes home after COVID-19 outbreaks on their campuses during summer workouts.
Georgetown is still awaiting a decision from the Big East that will determine the fate of the rest of its fall athletic teams, including its golf, soccer, cross country, field hockey and volleyball programs. Although the Patriot League announced the cancellation of the season, the conference did not announce whether or not programs were permitted to practice and train in the fall in anticipation of a delayed spring season, which puts the football and women’s rowing programs in limbo.