The movement to repeal the ban that prohibits Ivy League football teams from participating in postseason play gained momentum at the most recent meeting of the Ivy Council, held the weekend of April 8.
The Ivy Council, which is made up of student government leaders representing each of the Ancient Eight undergraduate bodies, passed a resolution that called upon the Council of Ivy Group Presidents to reconsider the ban.
“I know [that with] the Ivy League coaches, when we meet, it’s certainly the thing that everybody talks about,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “We’d love it, but I don’t know if I’m overly optimistic.”
Before the Ivy Council convened, the majority of Ivy League schools had passed resolutions in their individual student governments. Cornell’s Student Assembly passed a resolution on March 30 stating, “all athletes of the Ivy League deserve the right to excel on a national level and compete for intercollegiate championships.”
Harvard’s Undergraduate Council and Penn’s Undergraduate Assembly passed resolutions similar to the S.A.’s before the Ivy Council meeting. Together, the Crimson and the Quakers have claimed seven Ivy football championships in the past decade. A student at Harvard, Jordon Jones, has been leading the efforts at coordinating a unified front among the student government bodies.
Michelle Fernandes ’06, the vice president of finance for the S.A. and the president of the Ivy Council, pointed out that the arguments against postseaseason competition are inconsistent with policies applied to other sports. Of the 36 varsity teams at Cornell, the football team is the only squad that does not have the opportunity to advance to a postseason and compete for a national championship.
The Ivy League has traditionally enforced the ban in order to avoid the Division I-AA postseason from disrupting academics at member schools. However, information compiled by Jones points out that the preliminary rounds of the Division I-A men’s soccer and women’s volleyball, for example, already disrupt the academic exams schedule of Ivy League institutions.
The Cornell volleyball team competed in the first round of the 2005 national tournament, losing to Long Island on the final day of classes of the fall semester. If the Red had advanced past the opening weekend, it would have been competing throughout study week. The national semifinals were held Dec. 15, the Thursday of Cornell’s finals week.
“You want to offer the players the chance … to be the best that they can possibly be, and rise as high as they can possibly rise,” Knowles said. “[A postseason] would be great. We’d really love that experience.”