Cornell Athletic Director, Andy Noel on Season Cancellation

Dear alumni, parents, friends and fans of the Big Red…


This evening the Ivy League Presidents will announce that the pause on athletics competition will continue through winter as the global COVID-19 pandemic has worsened. The earliest any of our teams will have a chance to compete will be March 1, and only if conditions improve and are deemed safe to do so.

Though there are promising reports regarding therapeutics and the development of vaccines, they do not immediately change the situation on the ground that includes record daily infection numbers and near-record hospitalizations. The prognosis is no better than when spring and fall 2020 sports were canceled, and by most metrics the situation is worse now. There remains uncertainty over long-term effects of the virus on the infected. Though Cornell has done an impressive job containing the virus on campus, it is in large part due to restrictions that would need to be lifted to allow athletic competition, including current travel and visitor policies. The Department will continue to advocate for the safe resumption of athletic competition when it is appropriate and safe to do so.

The reality doesn’t reduce the heartbreak of our student-athletes and coaches who have committed themselves to success. Many of our winter athletes were unable to compete for national championships this past year and are now suffering the loss of yet another season. It also doesn’t temper the larger frustration regarding a virus that has uprooted many norms in our life. We couldn’t be more disappointed and frustrated at the situation we’re facing, but we’re also more dedicated than ever to get through this pandemic together.

Our department has done everything possible to provide our student-athletes an opportunity to compete this winter and will continue to work toward the resumption of competition. Sports medicine and strength and conditioning staff efforts have been heroic. They mobilized to contact trace and test 325 athletes who could have been exposed early in the semester, took on additional responsibilities to hasten a return to training, and covered all sports in all seasons this fall. Our coaches and staff have volunteered thousands of hours as Behavioral Compact Monitors and as part of the Cornell Compact Compliance Team. Thousands of additional hours went into planning and exploring options to keep our teams safe and engaged and to bring facilities online to meet University, state and local health guidelines. Our athletes fought the fatigue and other impacts of virtual study and the isolation from friends and family that came with disciplined compliance to safety guidelines. All of this came in an effort to be healthy, protect our community, keep the university open, and pursue our goals on the field.

I appreciate your continued support of our department to which we are all dedicated. This scenario is as challenging as there has ever been in college athletics, but rest assured the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, families and the larger community are always the most important aspect of this and all decisions made at Cornell.


All the best,

Andy Noel