We could see packages this fall if a Big Ten team is unable to deal with the COVID-19 virus.
As the Delta variant ramps up and cases increase across the country, the Big Ten conference on Monday unveiled its revised COVID-19 policy which calls for forfeits and “no contests” if a team is buried in positive cases.
Thanks to recommendations from the League’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Task Force, Sports Medicine Committee, Athletic Directors and School Presidents and Chancellors, the Big Ten said any team unable (or unwilling) to play due to the increase in cases will have to forfeit. Consequently, the match will be counted in the standings as a defeat for the forfeiting team and a victory for the opponent.
This is a change from 2020, when Big Ten sporting events were canceled and not counted in the leaderboards. In football, the Big Ten have canceled 13 games due to its strict COVID-19 policy that sets benchmarks for positive cases. All canceled matches were declared “without competition”.
That will change this fall, although the set of rules determining the spread and severity of COVID-19 on each team will be different. In July, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said conference presidents and chancellors agreed to “decentralize” decision-making, leaving it to each individual school based on local and state guidelines.
Under the revised policy, if the two Big Ten teams are unable to compete due to COVID-19 issues, the match will be declared “no competition” and will not count against either of the schools in the standings.
Each school was tasked with submitting their suggestions to the league office in early August. In Monday’s announcement, the Big Ten made no mention of required vaccination rates or benchmarks.
But at the two Big Ten schools in Michigan, Michigan, and Michigan State, vaccines are required for all students and campus staff. Studies have shown that vaccinated people are less likely to contract the virus, spread the virus, be hospitalized and die from COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Jim Harbaugh said the Michigan football team was over 95% vaccinated against the virus.
Also on Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval for Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine, paving the way for the country to impose the vaccine.