Big Ten games impacted by COVID-19 cases will no longer be considered automatic forfeits, the league announced Tuesday.
The adjusted forfeiture policy for all remaining 2021 and 2022 Big Ten contests allows the league to review every impacted contest and determine whether it can be rescheduled, declared a no-contest or declared a forfeit. The Big Ten’s initial policy called for teams impacted by COVID-19 issues to forfeit the impacted games.
“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 prepared 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.”
The Big Ten will consider number of available athletes and coaches when determining what happens to games affected by COVID. Men’s and women’s basketball teams typically must have at least seven scholarship athletes and at least one coach available to play games, but Big Ten teams may play with lower numbers if approved by medical personnel.
Big Ten teams that have enough players and coaches still may choose not to compete, but would need to demonstrate compelling reasons to the league and its chief medical officer, Dr. James Borchers.
“A team that does not compete, and is unable to demonstrate why it is unsafe to compete, will be assessed a forfeiture,” the Big Ten stated in a news release.
The Big Ten was the last of the seven major basketball conferences to amend its forfeiture policy.