Each of those classes has lost at least one season at Dartmouth due to COVID-19.
After break with tradition in February 2021 to allow senior athletes admitted to their schools’ graduate programs to compete for an additional season, the Ivy League Council of Presidents elected not to extend the same opportunity to other classes impacted by COVID -19. In a December 2021 email sent to the Ivy League Student Athletic Advisory Committee — a committee made up of SAAC representatives from each Ivy League college — and obtained by the Dartmouth, the Ivy League executive director , Robin Harris, informed the committee that the Council of Presidents was “comfortable with the league’s current position and … not interested in further extending eligibility to graduate students.
In its February ruling, the Ivy League said the exception would only be granted to senior citizens. However, the Ivy League SAAC had since lobbied the Council of Presidents to extend the temporary waiver to all classes affected by the athletic cancellation year, including the classes of 2022, 2023 and 2024.
“We voted [initiative] at SAAC, and there was overwhelming support for that because you only get four years of athletics,” said Dartmouth SAAC volleyball team representative Emma Moffet ’22. “For me, I had a full season of volleyball canceled – which is a quarter of my college career – while some sports lost two seasons.”
Through the Ivy League governance process, the initiative was embraced by Ivy League athletic directors and political committees, but the dissenting decision by the presidents ended the effort. Taurus Samuels ’22, member of the basketball team and president of the Dartmouth SAAC, noted that there is also a rule within the Ivy League that prevents double jeopardy, thus putting the initiative to rest longer than immediately.
“In a perfect world, we would like the Ivy League to change the rule, but we knew that move had been rejected many times in the past,” Samuels said. “We were coming at it from a temporary angle, that it would only be for classes that were affected by COVID, not future classes.”
As a result of the decision, three of the four classes currently at Dartmouth will graduate without using up all four years of their NCAA eligibility as a Big Green athlete. Samuels, as a member of the Class of 2022, is among those who will not be allowed to play for an additional year.
“I love Dartmouth College,” Samuels said. “I came here because I want to play for this school, and I had no control over my year being taken away from me, so I would have loved to end my career here.”
The inability to compete as a graduate student at his undergraduate institution is unique to the Ivy League—the Ancient Eight is the only conference in the nation that does not allow graduate students to participate in varsity sports. Since the Ivy League only announced its Class of 2021 exception in February last year, many Dartmouth athletes were unable to take advantage of the waiver as they had already made plans to the next year.
For that reason, Samuels noted that there are plenty of former Dartmouth athletes who have opted to transfer or who would have enjoyed an extra year of eligibility had they not already accepted a job. Had SAAC’s most recent initiative passed, current student-athletes would have had more time to apply for graduate programs at Dartmouth or consider whether or not to use their Hanover eligibility. .
Although Moffet explained that the initiative did not greatly influence her post-graduation decision, as she had already secured a job, she said many athletes were disappointed.
“A lot of people really wanted to take their year back and do it in a way that would set them up for success after graduation,” Moffet said.
Eric Gibson ’23, a member of the Dartmouth track and cross country teams, echoed his sentiment.
“For a lot of my teammates,” Gibson said, “this initiative would definitely have had an impact on decisions about their future.”