As COVID-19 numbers increase from early summer lows and masking recommendations return for the start of another pandemic academic calendar, the Ivy League gave fans a bit of positive news on Thursday with the release of the 2022 conference schedule. After skipping the entire 2020-21 season due to safety concerns, the Ancient Eight curtain is set to rise on January 2 with eight games – a mere 666 days after the last league games on March 7, 2020.
This year sees the start of the new Ivy schedule, a 10-week slate that replaces the traditional eight-week race. Back in the simpler times of January 2020, league officials announced the change after a year-long discussion with coaches, administrators and athletes. With Princeton changing its fall semester finals schedule from January to December, the conference was able to expand the calendar by two weeks in order to provide extra rest and class time to the players.
Some highlights to the new schedule include:
- Opening weekend for 16 men’s and women’s teams around New Year’s Day.
- Three traditional back-to-back Friday/Saturday night weekends on weeks two, six and eight.
- A Saturday/Monday set of games during MLK Day weekend (week three).
- Five single-game weeks: one, four, five, seven and nine.
- A final Saturday night of games against each school’s travel partner (week 10).
While the original plan was to be in effect for the 2021 and 2022 league seasons, Ivy Hoops Online confirmed with the league office that the trial will be extended to the end of the 2022-2023 season due to last year’s absence.
Looking at the upcoming season, a few things stand out:
- The league has opening day listed for January 1, while every team with a released schedule has the games listed on January 2. According to a league source, the teams were given the flexibility to choose to play anytime from December 31 to January 2. The Harvard/Princeton men’s and women’s games, Penn/Brown men’s game and Columbia/Yale women’s game look to be the marque contests on the first day of action.
- There are no men’s and women’s doubleheaders this year. As a result, the two division schedules are complete mirror opposites. According to the Ivy League’s Assistant Executive Director, Communications & Championships Meghan Moore, there was no particular reason for the absence of these twin bills.
- The travel partners will play against each other for the first time on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 17).
- Each team will only play four teams, instead of all six, during the back-to-back weekends.
- The two Brown/Yale-Harvard/Dartmouth back-to-backs will be in the same order, leaving Harvard/Yale matchups for both Saturday nights. The two Columbia/Cornell-Penn/Princeton weekends will be in the usual reverse order. When asked about the timing for the B-Y-H-D pairings, Moore stated that it was a simple oversight by the coaches and administrators putting together the schedules. The league office will bring it up with the coaches at their annual meeting and it “will most definitely be corrected for next season.”
- The final night is scheduled for March 4 with Princeton at Penn and Brown at Yale highlighting the men’s slate, while the Quakers visit the Tigers and the Lions travel to the Big Red on the women’s side.
- There was no mention about any cancelation protocols. While not providing specifics, Moore informed IHO that the league has procedures in place for both weather and COVID-19-related incidents.
Checking on individual programs:
- Brown men: open with four straight road games and five of its first six away from home; finish with six of its last eight at the Pizzitola Sports Center
- Columbia men: four of their first five games are on the road, followed by five straight games at Levien Gymnasium: close the year with three of four away from NYC
- Cornell men: open at home against Dartmouth, then leave Ithaca for three straight games; five of their next six at Newman Arena before hitting the road for three of their last four contests
- Dartmouth men: four of their first six are at Leede Arena before leaving Hanover for four straight games; finish with three straight home games (hopefully, the Big Green will have another Flannel Shirt Night and their first Welcome Back Trotter Night during this important homestand) before closing the regular season at Lavietes Pavilion
- Harvard men: Start with three straight at home, before leaving campus for six of their next seven; end the regular season with three of four at Lavietes
- Penn men: Stay at home for four straight and five of their first six games; Hit the road for six of their next seven before finishing the season at the Palestra against the Tigers
- Princeton men: After traveling to Harvard for the league opener, the team returns to Jadwin for five of its next six; finish the year with five of its last seven on the road
- Yale men: The defending champs welcome Columbia to start the year, then leave New Haven for five of their next six; the year ends with the Bulldogs at the John J. Lee Amphitheater for five of their last seven
- Brown women: Nineteen months after getting hired as the program’s head coach, Monique LeBlanc will lead the Bears in league play for the first time with five of their first six at the Pizz before hitting the road for most of February with six of their last eight on the road
- Columbia women: The Lions will be tested early at home as hosts to Yale, Princeton and Penn and will later become the only Ivy, women’s or men’s, to have five straight conference road games in 2021-22, going more than a month without a game at Levien
- Cornell women: Get Penn, Princeton and Yale at home for three of their first four before traveling for five of their next six and then settling in at home again for three of their final four
- Dartmouth women: Four of their first six are away from Leede Arena before getting four straight at home from late January to mid-February and then finishing with three of their last four on the road
- Harvard women: First three and three of last four on the road with a stretch of six at seven at home in between
- Penn women: Five of the first six are away from the Palestra – except for a January 17 date with Princeton – before two three-game homestands down the stretch and a March 4 regular season finale at Jadwin
- Princeton women: Embark on defending their Ivy crown by hosting Harvard in the Ivy season opener before leaving Jadwin for four of the next five, finishing that road slate at the Palestra and ending with six of their final nine at home
- Yale women: Get five of their first seven in New Haven, including battles with Harvard, Penn and Penn, before taking their turn as guests for five of the last seven, including a trip to the P’s on February 18 and 19.
(8/17/21: This article has been updated to include comments from Ivy League Assistant Executive Director, Communications & Championships Meghan Moore)