Ivy League Decides To Trash Winter Sports And Fall Sports As Well

In a press release delivered last night, the Ivy League has decided to eliminate all winter sports but in the same release said that they will not play the fall sports in the spring. They still held out the possibility for spring sports to be played starting in March. They did not explain why field hockey could not played but lacrosse could be. However, some of the Ivy Schools have implemented an attendance schedule where only specific classes are allowed on campus eg. freshman and juniors this fall and sophomores and seniors in the spring. This would make it difficult to field full teams.

This has to be disappointing for many seniors who will miss their final season while others play. With the advent of a vaccine for Covid it makes it more likely athletes could play without significant health risks.

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Audrey Sawers meets up with a William and Mary attacker

The Patriot League has left open the possibility to play fall sports this spring and the momentum and desire to play seems likely to make that happen. The only league to play has been the ACC. The other division one schools seem ready to play with a national championship to be played in April. Now there will certainly be three teams who will be invited to play via the at large route.

I am grateful that the Lafayette Athletic Administration has been working overtime with the other Patriot League administrators to present a scenario that makes the President’s council comfortable, if not anxious to open. Well done, for their hard work and I imagine great thanks will come from our hard working student athletes is in order!!!

There are now six field hockey players on campus and the whole team will be back along with the whole school in January!! Go Pards!!!

Patriot League And Lafayette College Announce Return Of Sports

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In a coordinated announcement at 9:29am the Patriot League along with its member institutions announced a plan to return to the courts and playing fields in the near future. Sherryta Freeman, Lafayette AD, followed with an email at 9:32 to alumni and others explaining the steps to put Lafayette Athletics back into competition with the rest of the collegiate athletic world. It was a welcome communication, as the outlines of the return of fall sports ( including field hockey) could begin for this spring. The only conference playing field hockey this fall, is the ACC, who completed its championship yesterday with UNC beating Louisville. UNC will get the ACC auto-bid for a spring national championship. Louisville is certainly worthy of consideration of the one of the at large bids.

Freeman stated in her email, “I’m excited to share some good news. Just a few moments ago, the Patriot League Council of Presidents announced that it endorsed a plan for a league only 2021 men’s and women’s basketball schedule beginning Saturday Jan 2.” Freeman added…forthcoming….

In addition, the council supported continued planning for competitive fall sports schedules during the spring semester under a variety of parameters.

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Sophie Carr is on the ball!!

She added, ” I am anxious and excited to see our teams compete again and build upon last year’s success. Achieving our goal of creating a championship culture remains our priority and we will be ready when competitions begin.”

The details for basketball are a little complicated and deserve study, as it may be a clue as to how field hockey will schedule this spring. In any case, it looks like Lafayette and the Patriot League are making sure all its schools will be eligible for NCAA tournaments.

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The basketball schedule features a significant reduction in travel and restricts games to Patriot League opponents. No team will be permitted to fly to games. This sounds more like a cost saving measure as there does not appear to be any scientific data that would compromise health by flying or staying in hotels. There will still be travel but the League has split into three regional mini conferences with teams playing four games against each regional opponent. This will give the conference participants the 16 games necessary to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Eight of the ten teams will qualify for the Patriot League Tournament. The service academies are excempt from all provisions regarding out of conference play. The three divisions are North ( Army,Boston, Colgate, Holy Cross), Central (Bucknell, Lafayette, Lehigh), and South (American, Loyola,and Navy).

The result according to the schedule is that Lafayette will not play Holy Cross or Army, during the regular season, but will play Bucknell and Lehigh four times, and Boston, Loyola,American, Colgate and Navy twice. It must be my 75 years but the logic escapes me, but I’ll take it. Championships will be March 6,10 and March  14. Women’s Basketball is similar with championship games March 7, 11 and the 14th.

I could see a similar scheduling attempt for Field Hockey while playing each team twice in a season similar to the ACC’s already completed fall season. So that would mean 12 games and potentially two additional games in the championship. And then on to the NCAA with the auto bid.

ACC Title Games Play On

Proving that Field Hockey can be played this fall, the ACC played the first part of their championship tournament following an abbreviated season playing each other.

In a game that may prove to be a classic, UNC defeated Syracuse in overtime 4-3 at Karen Shelton Stadium on the campus of UNC. The semi-final game set up the Tar Heels for their 23rd ACC championship game and fourth consecutive championship. It also marked Karen Shelton’s 701st win surpassing UCONN’s Nancy Steven’s all time wins as a coach.

However, it was not to be easy, as Angie Bradley’s charges from Syracuse attempted to knock off the the Tar Heels. It was Bradley’s 14th season at the helm and gave UNC all they could handle.

Syracuse’s goalkeeper Syd Taylor was up to the task as she came through with 6 saves until the final heartbreaker when Erin Mastson entered the circle and Taylor came out to meet her. Although it appeared Taylor was going for the ball her follow through tripped Matson and set up a penalty stroke, which was executed at 4:52 into the first overtime by Bryn Boylan.

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UNC struck first at 3:08 with Boylan connecting on the penalty corner her first of two goals for the game. The lead was to stand up until early in the third quarter when Nieuwenhof from Syracuse  evened the score at 1-1. Erin Matson from UNC, 18 minutes later was to put the Tar Hells ahead 2-1 which was followed by a  Paitlyn Wirth shot and was to give the Tar Heels a 2 goal lead.

The Orange were not to be intimidated when, with less than nine minutes to go, Pleun Lemmers put Syracuse within one. Down by one goal and only 45 seconds left in regular time, Haile Bitter evened the score setting up overtime.

It was an entertaining game and season, disproving the assertion that Field Hockey could not be played this fall. The championship will be played between UNC and Louisville who broke UNC’s winning streak in October.The winner will get the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament this spring, and most certainly there will others from the ACC getting the available at large berths.

Although Lafayette has not played UNC for several years, last year Lafayette battled Syracuse, only to lose in overtime in New York.

The NCAA championship will consist of a smaller field, with the automatic berths to be filled with conference champions and two at large teams. The at large slots will probably be added to, with the Ivy League not playing spring sports.

The Patriot League and Lafayette should be playing this spring and I look forward to confirmation of that soon. Lafayette should not disappoint its student athletes, alumni and fans. I have to say the decision to play by the ACC make me envious. This week end would have been the Patriot League playoffs.

I look forward to a correct decision by Lafayette and Patriot League.

Catching Up On Field Hockey Events

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New Head Coach Named For U.S. Women’s National Team

After a long and exhaustive search USA Field Hockey, after sifting through an impressive list of qualified candidates, Simon Hoskins Executive Director announced the selection of Anthony Farry as the new U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach. Simon remarked,  ” He has built a great track record of success and has a wealth of experience as a head coach that will serve him well as we all at USA Field Hockey work to achieve our mission of sustained international success.”

He comes after serving as the performance director and head coach of the Japan Women’s National Team, a role he’s held for three years. Farry was also asst coach of the Australian Women’s team in 2010. He was also was as an asst coach for the Canadian Men’s team before becoming the head coach.  While in that role he coached Scott Tupper the newly hired Lafayette asst coach who is also the captain of the Canadian Men’s Team.

During a zoom meeting last night during a PM with me, Tupper had high praise for Farry and said it was a great hire for the US and attributed much of Canada’s success to him.

Lafayette Turf Talk

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For the second time, Coach Jennifer Stone arranged for we parents, fans and alumni to stay connected to the program. Hosted by Kaitlyn Arnold, Lafayette alumna, former scholar athlete, and all league goal tender, gave everyone chance to meet Scott Tupper, the new asst coach, Eva Kaplan junior midfielder, and Audrey Sawers one of the team captains.

Coach Stone started the one hour meeting by stating the school has changed to a hybrid system and everyone will be on campus in the spring. This will enable the full team to be present and to perhaps have a spring season. Welcome news!

Katilyn who is the voice of Lafayette field hockey broadcasts, added to her credentials as a TV personality by adroitly introducing each guest, and was well prepared with interesting questions for us to absorb. We learned  what it’s like for the five team members on campus, and Eva ran through her experience at home staying in shape and doing clinics for young athletes.

Scott spent time explaining his career, as Stone had prepared highlights of Scotts play for us to enjoy. His corner shots were like rockets. He is a defender at heart and credits hard work and perseverance for his success. Asked about the Leopards team, he is excited to see the team together. He has been working with the 5 team members in residence.

We learned his wife is a US citizen and comes from Lancaster,Pa. He brings a great work ethnic combined with a keen sense of humor, which should make future team practices interesting.

There Are College Teams Playing

The ACC is playing a fall season and did give this fan a chance to see live field hockey.  Last weekend’s overtime game from Chapel Hill between UNC and Duke was a classic.

The ACC has been playing all fall, I hope the Patriot League will come to its senses and start scheduling for the spring!

Griggs_Hannah_du_2087 Our student athletes are entitled and have earned that experience.

Go Pards!

Lafayette Goes Hybrid For The Spring

In a release to the Lafayette community, President Allison Byerly announced the plan for the spring semester. She reviewed the issues in the fall and how the college’s goals were met by limiting the population density on campus and by offering remote only learning. In a zoom meeting several weeks ago she revealed that 60-70 percent of the faculty wanted to return to normal teaching.

Byerly noted that many of our peers have been successful in bringing students back to campus, and offering some portion of in person classes. Bucknell, Lehigh, Colgate, Boston among others have been successful examples, along with West Point and Annapolis in the Patriot League.

She recognizes that bringing more students to campus presents greater challenges but believes the risks to be manageable. A return to campus by students would have to include significant increases in testing protocols and community commitment. She adds we cannot expect a disease-free environment, but with effort the Lafayette community can control the environment within manageable levels.

Lafayette did experience a minor spike in cases last week of seven, with six being asymptomatic. Further testing revealed three more asymptomatic testing, so far this week.

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So all students will choose to study at home or come to campus. Those who are at home get a 10 pct discount on their tuition ( plus no room or board). Students must make their choice by Nov 2.

All faculty will choose whether to teach in the classroom or remotely. Some employees will choose to remain at home. There is an expectation that students will participate in testing and contact tracing. Students should not expect all activities and services normally available.

It was emphasized they are not promising a normal semester. So it is uncertain still, about the future of sports. The NCAA has set a calendar for the return of basketball and the playing of fall sports in the spring. The ACC is playing a full calendar of games including field hockey this fall. There several conferences that have already announced plans for spring field hockey. I have heard rumored that at least two Ivy League schools will not play this spring ( Harvard, Princeton and perhaps Yale). There may be five Ivy League schools playing.

It appears that there is a majority in the Patriot League who want to return to sports this winter and spring ( Army, Navy, Holy Cross, Colgate, Lehigh and Bucknell and perhaps BU). It has been pointed out, that there are state impediments for Holy Cross and BU, but Boston College has been able to navigate those obstacles as an ACC member.

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The above announcements makes it more likely but not a certainty that Lafayette will return to athletic competition. I see no impediment for a fanless basketball season, since student don’t return until mid to late January. Outside sports to me are a no brainer, field hockey, golf, soccer, tennis and even Lacrosse and Football could be played, given the low risk to the participants in that age group.

I note that the ACC has managed to play without major incident and Army and Navy have not had infection problems with contact from other schools. I would hope and encourage that an announcement on sports in the very near future is promulgated, anything less would be a major disappointment, demonstrating a lack of commitment and leadership. Not to say a fiscal and strategic mistake!!

Let’s go Pards!!

NCAA Outlines Division One Basketball Return

Patriot League Needs To Act

In an announcement yesterday, the NCAA has announced the return of Division One basketball. Games will start on November 25, presumably when most students are completing their academic semester of classroom work. There will be maximum of 27 games, a minimum of 13, no scrimmages, and a recommendation for 4 out of conference games. Full team practices can begin Oct 14, although most schools in the Patriot League are already having conditioning and individual instruction.

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There are about 150 student athletes on campus, I do not know how many per individual sports, except for field hockey of which there are four. Football, I hear have about 35 on campus. Bucknell, Boston, and Colgate are having all classes returned, and I have seen social media pictures of athletes at practice on campus. In field hockey, I have seen pictures of BU, Bucknell, American and Lehigh on their practice fields.

In other news, the BIG TEN is returning to play football, and there is limited activity in the other sports.There are limited connections to play field hockey with other Big Ten schools in much the same way a spring season would be constructed. Many players have gone to Europe to play for the semester while doing their academic work online. I know of one Ivy school that got their whole freshman field hockey class to play in Europe. The ACC is playing inter-league.

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Ana Steps takes control against Temple

I have not yet heard of any Patriot League meetings to announce a return of basketball but I did get a head fake, as the move to ESPN plus was announced dramatically yesterday. I would hope the Patriot League would now more expeditiously move in light of the NCAA’s announcement.

Covid testing at Lafayette, Bucknell, Colgate,Lehigh, and Boston University has shown about a 2/10’s of one percent Covid infection rate among the returning and all students in residence.

It seems the time is now for the Patriot League to act.

NCAA To Set Spring Championships For Fall Sports

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Within a week the NCAA will set the dates and format for fall sports moved to the spring season. Although there are other rules to be decided on as there are some schools like the ACC that are still trying to play this fall with no championships. Will they be be allowed to participate in a spring NCAA Championship. ( the answer is probably).

In any case, these are the proposed championship dates:

SPORT   OLD BRACKET. NEW BRCKET  AQ./at Large  DATES

Cross C        N/A.                255 per gender.   N/A          3/15/2021

Field Hockey  16                12                           10/2.        5/7-5/9/2021

Men’s Soccer.  48                36                           24/12.      5/13-5/17/21

Women’s Soc.  64                 48                          31/17.      5/13-5/17/21

W. Volleyball.  64                 48                           32/16.     4/23-4/25/21

It behooves the Patriot League to begin discussions on returning to the practice field. No doubt it depends on the course of the virus but recent results from many schools show good control of the virus on campus. Colgate, Bucknell, Boston University, Army, and Navy have universal testing and the results are encouraging with positive results at only 2/10 of one percent. Even at Lafayette, with a less aggressive testing protocol, have results well under one percent through the end of August.

What is happening is a disproportionate residency on campus’ between the schools. For example, Lehigh reports that 87 out of 89 football players are on campus participating in conditioning and limited drills. There are also a significant number of field hockey  players who were able to practice on the field according instagram photos this past weekend.

Lafayette players are certainly playing where they can, at clubs, who are operating and overseas it has been reported that our players are playing for their local club teams. I hope those players in country are busy honing their skills and fitness in preparation for a spring return.

So here is my plea to Lafayette, it looks to me like there will be a majority of Patriot League schools that will want to return this spring. NOW is not too early to begin formulating those plans. Their mission is to serve the student athlete and they deserve the chance to play. It’s time to get ready!!!

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Meanwhile, FIH is restarting its schedule and the US Team will soon start practice. Their first game will not occur until April at venues to be announced

Now Is The Time To Prepare Fall Sports For the Spring Season

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The D1 Football Championship Committee has met and recommended the FCS championships be played April 18- May 15. (Lafayette is an FCS school in football). The brackets have been reduced to 16 teams from 24. The championship field will be 10 auto bids and and 6 at large bids, similar to field hockey. The NCAA football oversight committee will meet this week to consider the new format and date.

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Once football is established, the other fall olympic sports will most certainly follow. The NCAA has established a mandatory “socialization” period of six weeks which consists of strength and conditioning, individual instruction and, position instruction. The period is designed to observe and isolate those with Covid before actual practices begin. Coaches say they need 3-4 weeks after that to be ready. Will there be scrimmages or do we go right to games? How many games are needed to qualify for championship eligibility? At the moment Field Hockey has been adjusted to 9 games.

So if we were to start on January 1, the first game could then be played after March 12.  It would be necessary to play at least two games a week to fill requirements plus have a PL championship. There needs to be good planning since there would be sharing of facilities with the spring sports.

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Leopards get ready in Maroon Club weight training center!!

Basketball start dates are to be decided by mid September after that is not too early to start making plans for the spring. I wait for a clear indication that the process has begun.

Stone Adds Transfer Becca Harbert To The Roster

Coach Jennifer Stone added a transfer to her roster from the University of Delaware, GK Becca Harbert. Becca is a rising Junior who was a two time letter winner at the University of Delaware. The National Academic Squad member, is a biology major and will join two other goalkeepers already on the squad. Becca played high school field hockey at Cumberland Valley, and was a mid-Penn all star.

Nancy Stevens Retires

The long time coach for the Connecticut Huskies announced her retirement yesterday after 30 years, She is the winningest coach in NCAA field hockey history. She has been a collegiate coach for 43 years but will remain as a volunteer coach this year. She led the Huskies to National Championships (2013, 2014, and2017). She finishes her career with an all time record 700-189-24.

Paul Caddy, recognized as one of the top assistants in country will be elevated to the head coaching position. He has been with UConn for the last 20 years.

NCAA Sets Table For Spring Championships

The D1 Board of Directors approved the blanket eligibility waiver for fall sports student athletes regardless of whether they compete this fall or spring. The waiver allows schools to exempt athletic aid of a fall sport athlete would have exhausted eligibility in 2020-21 extending the athletes eligibility time. The extension will not count against team limits for 2021-22. The board also recommended fall championships be moved to the spring and directed the Competition and Oversight Committee to develop NCAA championship models for the impacted sports.

There has been no response from either the Patriot League or Lafayette at the moment.

The NCAA vs Power Five Football

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Mark Emmert president of the NCAA called off all NCAA fall championships, which left the FBS intact, the one the NCAA has made out of reach. Most of these schools are clinging with dogged determination to keep football playing this fall, along with other sports. Emmert climbed out of his bunker to declare the fall season over for most schools and set off a battle between the large power 5 schools and the rest of college athletics.

Emmert is clearly trying to pressure the remaining conferences to give in and play their championships in the spring. The remaining six football conferences are clearly up against the wall but it sets up a showdown between the NCAA who usually bows to the large conferences and all the rest of college athletics.

Sports Illustrated reports one Group of 5 AD said, ” Does the fall proceed with only six FBS conferences playing football and no one else doing anything.” The dynamic has changed this fall with many sports reaching less than 50% playing the many other sports and therefore triggering cancelling all fall championship tournaments. Is Karen Shelton at UNC going to be content to play 6 or 7 games and be ineligible to play for a national championship?

It was the Big Ten move and Pac 12 move that reduced the leverage of the remaining conferences. ” Among our frustrations with the NCAA is that they keep making announcements like this, without having first decided the myriad of associated issues involving eligibility, scholarship limits, competition season, roster size, etc ” said one Power 5 AD.  These are all legitimate issues and issues that have not been addressed by conferences like the Patriot League leaving many student athletes in limbo!!

The NCAA is not without fault neither is the Patriot League. These are important issues which ultimately go to credibility. IF THEY ARE SERIOUS ABOUT A SPRING SEASON ( THE LAST CHANCE FOR MANY ATHLETES TO PLAY THIS ACADEMIC YEAR ) THEY SHOULD BE SPENDING THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS SOLVING THESE PROBLEMS.

As many of you already know, I am not a great fan of the NCAA, for the main reason they have closed their eyes to the larger issues in college sports and chosen to encourage enforcement of a  plethora of ridiculous minor violations  ( like five dollar gift prohibitions to former athletes). The members schools of the NCAA have gone along with this and bear some responsibility for the current situation.

I do not believe the NCAA should go away, but be a better regulatory organization focusing on the “big stuff.” That takes engagement by the president’s of the colleges and universities. We should be returning to sport, not politics, power and egotism. We should be encouraging the lessons of athletics which are learned best on the playing field than in back room deals by interested combines. Sports has become entwined in other efforts recently, perhaps we all should take deep breath and decide how we get our student athletes back on the field! Full Stop!!