Almost immediately, the Ivy League was criticized for overreacting, with some of the harshest criticism coming from its own players and coaches. But within two days, the N.C.A.A. tournaments had been canceled, and the N.B.A., the N.H.L. and Major League Baseball’s spring training suspended games.
The Ivy League spokesman Matt Panto said that the conference had not sought a waiver from the N.C.A.A. to move football (or other sports) to the spring, something the official believed would be required. An N.C.A.A. spokeswoman, Stacey Osborn, declined to answer questions about the waiver process.
While pro basketball, soccer and baseball have experienced halting moments in their recent returns with sprinklings of positive tests and hiccups in the testing process, a return of college sports is even more problematic because its players — unlike the professionals — are not paid.
Also, the surge in cases in many pockets of the country over the last month has created more obstacles for the return this fall of college football, which many schools count on for millions of dollars in television, ticket and advertising revenues that fuel athletic departments.
The relatively simple task of bringing football players back to campus for voluntary workouts has in some cases proved so problematic that schools have been forced to abandon them because of Covid-19 outbreaks within their ranks. In the last week, Kansas, Louisiana Tech and Texas-El Paso became the latest to shut down.
Colleges at the lower levels of the N.C.A.A., which is made up of more than 1,100 schools, have already begun to cancel fall sports. Williams, Bowdoin, Swarthmore and Grinnell — all small liberal arts colleges that play at the nonscholarship Division III level — are among those to call off their fall sports seasons.
So, too, have the dozen Division II schools in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, which in May announced that it would cancel fall sports shortly after the Cal State University chancellor said that courses this fall would be held online with few exceptions. But those schools, like Swarthmore, do not play football.