GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — The first domino of the 2020 college athletic calendar fell as the Ivy League announced the conference will not be playing sports until Jan. 1, 2021.
Greece Athena graduate Kyle Benham, a rising senior on the Cornell football team, spent the off season recovering from an injury that sidelined him in 2019.
The tight end was ready to make his comeback this summer for camp, but was not surprised to hear about the conference’s decision to not play fall sports.
“When I was sent home from campus in March, I immediately thought, ‘how long is this going to last, will it last until next semester, will my senior year be thrown out?’,” said Benham, who at the time was not too concerned about finishing his second semester of junior year online. “I’m just praying for a vaccine at this point.”
Upon learning the news, Benham joined the entire Cornell football program for a virtual meeting to discuss possibilities, including the potential to play the football season in the spring and the postponement of the season until 2021, even though no decisions have been made yet.
The NCAA ruled spring sport athletes who lost their seasons midway through would be granted another year of eligibility. For the Ivy League athletes, especially seniors, things are a little harder. The conference does not offer athletic or academic scholarships, only need-based financial aid. Seniors could still play for their original teams, if their academic institutions see fit.
“We have to prove that staying at Cornell would fit in our academic plan,” said Benham. “If we can’t do that, what the sound of it is, we wouldn’t be able to take our football season at Cornell. We would have to do it somewhere else.”
The prospect of transferring to another school is difficult for Benham and others who have poured so much time, passion and effort into their programs.
“To not be welcomed back to it would really hurt,” said Benham. “I really just hope there’s something that can work out for me and my teammates where we can be a team and play together for one more season.”