The news wasn’t unexpected for the Hutchinson family.
Quarterback Joseph Hutchinson, a Lamar alumnus who helped lead the Raiders to three straight state titles, was set to enter his sophomore season at Princeton. Wednesday evening, the Ivy League announced the suspension of its fall sports, putting Hutchinson’s football plans on hold.
Due to team rules, Hutchinson was not available for comment, but his father, Matt Hutchinson, said he expected the Ivy League’s fall sports to get suspended after learning of Princeton’s plans for the fall semester. The school will host incoming freshmen and juniors on campus for its fall semester, while sophomores and seniors will live on campus during the spring in an effort to reduce the on-site student population in hopes of helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The Ivy League was the first league when all of this started going on to pull out of their basketball tournament, and as soon as that happened, everything else happened very quickly,” Matt Hutchinson said. “The thing I like about it is the decision was made (now), so we’re not waking up every day wondering if we’ll go back. You kind of know where you stand and what you have to do. For Joseph especially, there’s a peace of mind knowing what the plan is.”
The Ivy League Council of Presidents announced its decision to suspend fall sports Wednesday over concerns the COVID-19 pandemic would make it unsafe to play sports. Though it left open the possibility of fall sports being played in the spring, nothing is concrete.
“We simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk,” the Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a statement.
"We are entrusted to create and maintain an educational environment that is guided by health and safety considerations. There can be no greater responsibility — and that is the basis for this difficult decision.”
Matt Hutchinson said his son is taking the news in stride.
“He was actually more excited about returning to campus in the spring just because the fall is much more hectic,” Matt Hutchinson explained. “He’s hoping to take an extra (online) class and get ahead a little bit. He’s fine going back in the spring.”
In the meantime, Matt Hutchinson said his son will continue working out and throwing several days a week. Joseph Hutchinson has a quarterback coach in Atlanta with whom he’s worked several times since the pandemic forced him to come home to Meridian in March. He’ll either stay with his family in Meridian this fall or live somewhere else with his fellow sophomores.
“They’re exploring other options with his class of 2023, of them possibility getting together and moving somewhere together for the fall semester,” Matt Hutchinson said. “Nothing is concrete.”
Whenever there is football, Matt Hutchinson said his son will be ready to play. The only unknown right now is his eligibility status. Since he didn’t appear in more than four games last year, Joseph Hutchinson has a fifth year of eligibility should he choose to take it. Princeton students only have eight semesters to graduate, so none of the student-athletes are listed as redshirted on their respective rosters. The question is what happens if no football is played at all during the 2020-21 school year.
“He’ll get an extra year of eligibility regardless of what takes place now,” Matt Hutchinson said. “I don’t see them taking (another) year of eligibility if there’s no spring.”