How will Big Ten, MAC, Horizon League handle COVID canceled hoops games?

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

As college basketball teams are getting set to start or restart league play, conferences are scrambling to determine how it will designate games affected by the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

While many conferences continue to deliberate, the Mid-American Conference announced Thursday that any games scrapped by COVID will be made up if possible. If they can't be rescheduled, the games will go into the books as a "no-contest," rather than a forfeit for the team affected by COVID.

The exception to that rule: If a team has the minimum number of scholarship players available (seven) and at least one coach, but chooses not to play the game, that team would forfeit.

Michigan State's Tyson Walker and Oakland's Jalen Moore battle for the ball Tuesday at LCA.

"The MAC Medical Advisory Group will continue to monitor and discuss the current circumstances and, if necessary, may adjust the current protocols," the league said in a statement. 

"All contests will remain subject to national, state and local health guidelines."

Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Central Michigan participate in the MAC, and largely haven't affected by COVID-19 this season.

The Eastern Michigan women canceled two games, including one against Michigan, because of COVID — the second straight season it's had a lengthy shutdown because of the pandemic. That's the only Division I team in the state to cancel games because of COVID this season.

The Michigan men couldn't play a game this week against Purdue Fort Wayne, because of PFW's COVID issues.

The Big Ten, home of Michigan and Michigan State, continues to evaluate its protocols, saying in a statement Wednesday its forfeiture policy is up for discussion.

"The health, safety, and well-being of our student-athletes and our campus communities is our top priority," the Big Ten statement read. "We will continue to work diligently and collaboratively with the Big Ten Conference Administrators Council, Chancellors and Presidents, the Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, and the Sports Medicine Committee to determine next steps.”

Meanwhile, the Horizon League, home of Oakland and Detroit Mercy, is in the same boat as the Big Ten. It has made no final decision regarding no-contests or forfeitures, but expects to in the near future.

Oakland, the only Division I team to play its entire scheduled regular season last year, saw all of its players get the booster shot last week.

The Horizon League reboots conference play next week.

"Given the current rise in COVID cases due to the omicron variant, the Horizon League is currently evaluating safety protocols and competition policies in regards to its winter sport programs," the Horizon League said in a statement to The News on Wednesday night. "Safety protocols are aligned with NCAA guidance while also accounting for community risk. Competition policies include, but are not limited to, forfeiture vs. no-contest, rescheduling and tiebreakers.

"We will continue to work with the Horizon League’s Board of Directors, Council, Return to Safe Play (Medical Advisory) group and administrators on campus to determine next steps moving forward."

The conference announcements come as the College Football Playoff committee said this week that any team that can't play the semifinals because of COVID will have to forfeit, and the games won't be rescheduled. 

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984