WCIA — The Big Ten has finally updated its COVID-19 forfeiture policy, becoming the last high major conference to remove the automatic forfeit rule for league games if they’re not played on the scheduled date due to teams on COVID-19 pause. Both the Illinois men’s and women’s basketball teams announced on Monday they are on pause due to positive cases within the program. The men’s game against Florida A&M will not be rescheduled but the women’s match-up against Maryland could be played on a different day, per the new rules. All eyes are now on Sunday’s games, with the men scheduled to visit Minnesota to re-start league play. The women are supposed to visit Iowa.
“The conference office and all 14 Big Ten member institutions have been in continuous contact about developments related to COVID-19,” Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “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.”
Under the new rule, teams who are not able to play a regularly scheduled Big Ten game due to COVID-19 will not have the opportunity to reschedule those contests, call them a ‘no-contest’ or declare it a forfeit. The league will handle all rescheduling, as well as making judgements as to whether teams are deemed worthy to play or not. Seven scholarship players for men’s and women’s basketball, along with one countable coach, are the standard metric for determining whether or not a game is viable to played. A team that is below that number may still decide to compete if deemed safe by medical personnel.
Per the new policy, if a team is not below the seven player and one coach threshold but still decide they don’t want to play, the school will need to demonstrate to the Big Ten that ‘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.”