Big Ten joins rest of Power Five to forfeit games affected by COVID-19

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The Big Ten announced on Monday that if COVID-19 issues prohibit a team from playing its scheduled game it will result in a forfeit for that team and a win for its opponent.

If in any event neither team is able to play on its scheduled day, the game will be deemed a “no contest.”

The Big Ten was the last of the Power Five conferences to decide on a forfeit mandate, following similar steps taken by the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC, although not all are the same.

The SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 do not have any specific information on what it would do if both teams are unable to play its scheduled game.

Meanwhile, the ACC has a much harsher rule if neither team can play its scheduled game — it will result in a forfeit for both teams rather than a no contest.

The forfeiture policy adopted by all Power Five conferences differs from last year when they attempted to postpone or cancel games. Under this policy, games like last year’s Michigan-Ohio State matchup would have resulted in a forfeit for the Wolverines and a win for the Buckeyes.

The canceled Ohio State-Michigan game resulted in a controversial vote by the Big Ten that allowed the Buckeyes to play in the Big Ten Championship despite not playing the minimum six games required.

The new rule will ideally help avoid such scenarios.

As of Aug. 4, the NCAA’s COVID-19 guidance states unvaccinated college athletes should be tested weekly, wear masks and quarantine if exposed to the virus, whereas vaccinated athletes would not be tested routinely.

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