Power Five conferences mostly align on forfeiture policy if teams cannot play in 2021 due to COVID-19

Written by on August 23, 2021

The Power Five conferences have made it clear: If you can’t play due to COVID-19, you will take a loss. The Big Ten was the last conference to announce its cancellation policy, doing so Monday with a forfeit mandate similar to the rest of the Power Five.

Any Big Ten team that is unable to play due to COVID-19-related issues will receive a loss in the conference standings, and its opponent will be given a win. In the event that both teams can’t field a team on its scheduled day, the game will be deemed a “no contest.” The SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 have similar policies with no specific information on what happens if both teams can’t play on the scheduled date of a contest. According to The Athletic, the SEC is also considering financial penalties for teams that have COVID-19 issues if it costs conference television money.  

The ACC’s rule is a bit different, and it could drastically change its standings. If two ACC teams can’t play each other on a scheduled date due to COVID-19 issues, both teams will receive a forfeited loss instead of the game being declared a no-contest. 

“The ACC’s Medical Advisory Group continues its tireless efforts to deliver meaningful protocols that will provide a healthy and safe environment for our student-athletes and teams,” said ACC commissioner Jim Phillips in a statement last week. “As a conference, we are extremely proud of the significant progress and overall high rates of vaccination among student-athletes, coaches and staff. The continued resilience, commitment and sacrifice by our student-athletes is inspiring, and we look forward to watching them compete at the highest level.”

This general forfeiture policy, adopted by all Power Five conferences, is a stark contrast to the one they had in place last year that efforted postponements rather than forfeitures. Multiple games across all conferences were canceled last season, including the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry and the Clemson-Florida State game.

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