In mid-July, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to surge for a second time since hitting the U.S. late this winter, the Patriot League Council of Presidents made the difficult decision to cancel the fall sports season.
That decision, which came on the heels of a similar announcement from the Ivy League and was followed by others from the Colonial Athletic Association and Atlantic 10 Conference, not only meant that Mountain Hawk athletics—which has been on a pause since March—would remain on hold indefinitely, but also that the college football world would this fall miss out on one of its grandest traditions: The Rivalry.
With football season canceled, Lehigh and Lafayette will not take the field for their storied series for the first time in 124 years, though possibility exists the game could be played in the spring of 2021. Along with football, the Lehigh field hockey, volleyball, women's soccer, men's soccer, men's cross country and women's cross country teams also saw their fall seasons eliminated.
"I'm disappointed for our athletes, who surely are eager to compete,” Joe Sterrett ’76, Lehigh’s dean of athletics, said in a statement following the league’s decision. “Yet I fully understand and support the difficult decision made by our league presidents. They properly placed the health of our communities above all else and the trends in health metrics create less optimism than we once held for being able to manage the health of our teams, especially given the travel and direct contact involved in most sports activities. We are and will remain committed to doing all we can to provide a healthy competitive opportunity for fall sport teams, perhaps in the spring."
The 10 full member colleges and universities in the Patriot League are spread across four states and Washington, D.C. At the time of the league’s announcement, cases were rising in three of the four states and Washington.