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IOWA CITY — The Big Ten Conference announced on Monday that it will not reschedule games because of COVID-19 if one team is unable to compete.
The new policy, summarized:
Competition involving two teams
- If one of the two teams is unable to participate in a conference competition due to COVID-19, the team unable to participate will be given a “loss,” while the opponent will tally a “win,” and conference standings will adjust.
- If both of the teams are unable to participate in a conference competition due to COVID-19 and the competition is unable to be rescheduled, it will be declared a “no contest.”
Competition involving three or more teams
- If a team is unable to participate in a competition due to COVID-19, it will forfeit the competition and other teams will be awarded a win. Conference standings will adjust accordingly, but “if team performance in the competition does not impact Conference standings and/or the involved sport is one in which there are no Conference standings, no further action shall be taken.”
The NCAA released its new COVID-19 protocols earlier this month amid the emergence of the delta variant, stating that vaccinated athletes will no longer have to quarantine if they come into close contact with an infected individual unless symptomatic and subsequently test positive for the virus. Vaccinated athletes also don’t have to undergo regularly scheduled testing.
How this compares to other conferences
The Big Ten is the second to last of the Power 5 conferences to announce its COVID-19 forfeit policy, which closely follows its counterparts in the Pac-12, ACC and Big 12. The only difference with the ACC’s policy is if both teams are unable to compete, both teams will forfeit and it will be recorded as a loss. The Pac-12 has not explicitly stated what would happen if both teams are unable to compete. Both the Big 12 and Big Ten say that if both teams are unable to compete, then the game will be assessed a “no contest,” however the Big Ten’s policy adds the possibility of rescheduling, while the Big 12’s does not and will use an “unbalanced tiebreaker,” if needed. The SEC has not formally announced its policy, but commissioner Greg Sankey warned that teams unable to play will forfeit, according to ESPN.
How this impacts Iowa
At Big Ten Media Days in July, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz stated that "not quite“ 70% of the Hawkeye football team was vaccinated, and announced that “number was going up,” at Iowa media day on Friday, Aug. 14.
Here’s a list of the vaccination rates reported by Iowa’s Big Ten opponents so far:
Indiana: Over 90%
Penn State: Over 70%
Purdue: Goal of at least 90% by end of July
Wisconsin: Over 85%
Northwestern: Over 90%
Minnesota: Not reported publicly, “significant number, not 100% yet”
Illinois: Almost 100%, five people out of whole program need second shot, everyone has had first dose
Nebraska: Not reported publicly
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said that “well over 90%” of his team was vaccinated on Friday, Aug. 6. Iowa faces Iowa State on Sept. 11.
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