On Tuesday, the Big Ten Conference announced an updated forfeiture policy for the remaining league contests in the 2021-22 college season. The previously policy stated that if teams were unable to play due to COVID-19 concerns, the game would be declared a forfeit.
Now, if teams do not have at least seven scholarship athletes and one coach available for safe competition, the game will be rescheduled. If it is unable to be reschedule, the game will be declared a no-contest. However, if a team is unable to reasonably demonstrate why it was unable to meet the safety threshold, the contest may be declared a forfeit.
Below is the full release:
ROSEMONT, Ill. — In collaboration and communication with the Big Ten Conference Administrators Council, Chancellors and Presidents, and the Sports Medicine Committee – effective today – the Big Ten Conference has updated its forfeiture policy for remaining 2021-22 conference contests across all sponsored sports.
“The conference office and all 14 Big Ten member institutions have been in continuous contact about developments related to COVID-19,” said Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren. “The well-being of our student-athletes and our entire athletic communities is our top priority and we are updating our forfeiture policy to support their health and safety as well as the integrity of conference competition.”
If a team or teams is/are unable to participate in a scheduled Conference competition due to COVID-19, and as a result the competition is unable to occur on the calendar day on which it is scheduled, the competition will not automatically be considered a forfeiture. Upon review and approval by the Conference office, in consultation with the participating institutions and the Big Ten Chief Medical Officer, Dr. James Borchers, the competition may be rescheduled, or declared a no contest or a forfeiture. The Conference office will be responsible for rescheduling any conference competition postponed due to COVID-19.
The number of competitors available – i.e. seven scholarship student-athletes for women’s and men’s basketball – and the availability of at least one countable coach will be factored into the decision-making process. A team that is below the number may still decide to compete if deemed safe by appropriate medical personnel (i.e. the decision to postpone a competition will not be automatic even if a team is below the number).
Conversely, a team that is not below the number of requisite competitors and a coach may still determine that it is unsafe to compete. In such case, forfeiture will not be automatic, but an institution would need to demonstrate to the Conference office, including the Chief Medical Officer, the circumstances that have led to a determination that it would be unsafe to compete. A team that does not compete, and is unable to demonstrate why it is unsafe to compete, will be assessed a forfeiture. Postponed competitions that do not result in forfeiture but are unable to be rescheduled will be declared “no contests.”