SEC establishes forfeit policies for college football games canceled due to COVID-19

Written by on August 31, 2021

The Power Five conferences have made it clear: If you can’t play due to COVID-19, you will take a loss. The SEC became the latest to announce its cancellation policy on Monday with a forfeit mandate similar to the rest of the Power Five. The policy will hand a forfeit to any team that is unable to play due to COVID-19 issues, while assigning a win in the conference standings to the team able to play. The SEC also will consider financial reimbursement to any team whose game was canceled through no fault of its own. 

If both teams are unable to play due to the pandemic, they will be issued losses in the conference standings. In that way, the SEC’s rule, which applies to all sports, is similar to the ACC’s regarding double forfeits. 

“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. “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.”

The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 will also consider games in which one team is unable to play as forfeits. However, those three conferences will not administer losses to both teams in the event of a double forfeit. Instead, games will be considered “no contests.”

This general forfeiture policy, adopted by all Power Five conferences, is a stark contrast to the one they had in place last year that allowed for postponements and “no contests.” Multiple games across all conferences were canceled in 2020, including the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry and the Clemson-Florida State game. Many others were postponed until later in the season.

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