The Big 12 conference announced its forfeiture rules on Tuesday ahead of the 2021 college football season.
According to a statement provided by the Big 12, if a conference game is canceled due to a team not having enough players—due to COVID-19 or for any reason—that team will forfeit and will be credited with a loss in the conference standings. The opponent will earn a win in conference standings.
Both teams will be deemed to have played the game for purposes of conference standings only. In addition, a "forfeit can be declared at any point before a completed contest and when possible could occur prior to the visiting team commencing travel", the statement read.
"In the case where both teams could are unable to compete, a No Contest would be declared and, if needed, an unbalanced tiebreaker would be used to determine conference championship participants in football or championship seeding in other sports. The Big 12 Commissioner retains discretion to declare a No Contest if extraordinary circumstances warrant."
As previously reported by Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby urged college athletes in July to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases, including the new delta variant of the virus—continue to skyrocket across the country.
“Frankly, anyone not getting vaccinated is taking unnecessary and unwarranted risks,” Bowlsby said during Big 12 media day. “It's shortsighted to not get vaccinated. If indeed the delta variant is as infectious as it is reported to be, not getting vaccinated is rolling the dice. As student athletes, you're also rolling the dice on whether you're going to participate.”
At media days, Bowlsby told SI that most of the programs in the conference had reached at least 75% vaccination level. The conference plans to treat unvaccinated players differently from those who have been vaccinated.
For student-athletes who have not been vaccinated, they will be subject to quarantine rules and further contact tracing.
The conference will kickoff its first game of the season when Kansas takes on South Dakota on Sept. 3.
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