Next Saturday's Virginia Tech-Virginia matchup isn't the first ACC football game to be postponed this season—NC State's game against the Hokies holds that honor— and it almost certainly won't be the last one altered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season as it progresses, the ACC has released a set of guidelines spelling out conditions that could cause games to be postponed and the season halted.
While the statement indicated that the ACC will continue to "monitor the changing situation and is prepared at any time to adjust schedules and games," the decision whether to play or not play will rest with discretion the participating teams.
According to the ACC's guidelines announced by the league's board of directors, football teams must have an "adequate" number of players available from it's original full roster. Although no specific number is mentioned, the guidelines specify that at least seven scholarship offensive linemen must be dressed and available to play.
Considerations that can lead to the discontinuation of games include:
- A COVID-19 cluster within either or both teams competing in the game based on the previous week's test results.
- An inability to isolate new COVID-19 cases or quarantine high contact risk cases.
- Unavailability or inability to perform symptomatic, surveillance or precompetition testing as required.
- Campus-wide or local community transmission rates that are considered unsafe by local public health officials.
- Inability to perform adequate contact tracing consistent with governmental requirements or recommendations.
If a team is not able to compete because of one or more of the above conditions and the game can not be rescheduled, the game will be considered a "no contest" and will not be counted in the ACC standings.
As for the season as a whole, the board of directors have the option to pull the plug if either the SEC or Big 12 discontinue playing football this fall or if the College Football Playoff is canceled.
Other conditions that could lead to a premature end to the season include:
- Prohibitive policies implemented by state, local and campus health authorities or leadership.
- Campus disruption that would not allow practices or competition to continue.
- COVID-19 clusters (as defined by the institution and/or local public health officials) within multiple teams that result in full discontinuation of the season rather than limited isolation of participants.
- An inability to travel safely and compete in away venues without contracting or spreading COVID-19.
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