A Power Five athletic director was asked this week what impact the Ivy League's decision would have on major college's football return to action.
He texted: Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
Loosely translated, that Latin phrase means: Just because a rooster crows at sunrise doesn't mean the rooster caused the sunrise.
"In other words," the AD said, "the Ivy has no impact."
Perhaps no direct impact but clearly plenty of leadership. By delaying fall sports until at least Jan. 1, 2021, the Ivy League has shown itself once again to be principled. The presidents, coaches and administrators that make up the league can look themselves in the mirror this week.
The conference took not only the high road but the safe road, the practical road. Academics still matter. So does student-athlete welfare. The collegiate model is still alive at places like Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth.
But you knew that already. There is little comparison between those halls of higher education and football factories. The difference, of course, is money.
Without saying it, the FBS is chasing the TV revenue that sustains it. The Big Ten announced Thursday it would play a conference-only schedule -- if it plays college football at all -- this fall. Other leagues may soon follow. That at least creates wriggle room to delay the 2020 season and/or create windows inside the campaign where postponed games could be made up.
Still, little about major-college football's return to play seems tethered to education.
It has been mostly about hustling 13,000 FBS football players back campus as early as June 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The result has been predictable with eight programs shutting down already due to a rash of positive tests.
Football players at UCLA and beyond have questioned the safety of such a return.
"I think that's what other conferences have to look at," said Robin Harris, the Ivy League's executive director. "What are the health and safety considerations?"
Good question. Half of the FBS's 130 schools won't even report the number of COVID-19 positives causing public health concerns. A conference-only schedule would address some of those issues.
The ACC is reportedly tentatively considering a conference-only schedule. The Pac-12 is headed that way, according to The Athletic. Meanwhile, the SEC and Big 12 remain in wait-and-see mode.
"It doesn't mean you're going to start your schedule the first week of October," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said of a conference-only slate. "You're going to try to start it on time and spread it out so you have more time to recover and more time to get over outbreaks."
There isn't that problem in the Ivy League, which doesn't offer scholarships in football and doesn't participate in the FCS playoffs. Ivy League football is also, largely, a money loser for the conference. Basketball turns the greatest profit.
Seems like less pressure, but try telling those athletes. They work just as hard at their sports. They're no doubt disappointed as hell they can't play this fall.
When it returns, the Ivy League may play a conference-only schedule. Or it may not play at all, waiting until the fall of 2021 to return. Because it can. That doesn't seem to be an option for FBS.
Those commissioners have let it be known all 10 FBS conferences may not participate in the 2020 college football season, however or whenever it is played. All the teams within those conferences may not participate. They're willing to push their decisions right up until practices start next month.
"I don't think we'll be the last conference to [cancel fall sports]," said Harris, who on July 1 celebrated her 11th anniversary as the Ivy League equivalent of commissioner. "I think they'll have to plan for disruptions and be nimble and flexible as things change. Campuses will have to decide what are the standards if you have individual student-athlete test positive at one point do you have to declare as a whole the team does not compete."
Eyes rolled in March when the Ivy League became the first Division I conference to cancel its conference basketball tournament amid the pandemic. There was a sense the league had overreacted. Later in the week, the remainder of Division I did the same but essentially only after NBA player Rudy Gobert tested positive.
"We may end up where they are," that Power Five AD said of the Ivy League this week, "but not because they have influence."
OK, so perhaps the Ivy League has little influence, but will its decision at least bring college athletics back to some sort of moral center?
"I don't know about that. Maybe," Harris said. "I'm not sure. Sports is such a fabric of our culture."
That fabric is about to be stretched. College sports is different than professional sports. There is no bubble to shelter amateur athletes because there can't be. Supposedly, they are college students first.
At one time this offseason, college presidents told us there would be no fall sports if students were not allowed on campus. Haven't heard much about that lately.
Less than a month before fall practice is set to begin, there is no central entity directing testing procedures. MLB is testing players every other day. In college football, there'd either not enough money or not enough will to test that frequently. Maybe both.
If it seems like the players are being treated like unpaid mercenaries, well ...
If FBS shuts down, Harris predicts the process will look much like it did in March when the conferences canceled their tournaments one by one. Realization of the obvious came piecemeal.
The Ivy League may not be the leader in this decision, but it is once again be the first Division I conference able to look itself in that mirror.
"We are doing what we think is right for the Ivy League," Harris said. "If that helps others, that's wonderful."