Big Ten updates forfeit policy for basketball games scrapped by COVID

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The Big Ten is leaning toward a "no-contest" designation for winter sports contests, including men's and women's basketball games, that are postponed by COVID-19 and not able to be made up.

The conference released a statement Tuesday, updating its policy amid the latest surge of the coronavirus, which is wreaking havoc on college basketball, football bowl games and professional sports.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren

“The conference office and all 14 Big Ten member institutions have been in continuous contact about developments related to COVID-19,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “The well-being of our student-athletes and our entire athletic communities is our top priority and we are updating our forfeiture policy to support their health and safety as well as the integrity of conference competition.”

The new policy states that if a team is under the threshold of available personnel — for basketball, that's seven players and one coach — and unable to play and the game can't be made up, it'll be a no-contest. Teams that have the available personnel but don't feel safe playing but must demonstrate to conference medical officials why they can't play. If that reasoning isn't satisfactory, that game will be considered a forfeit.

The Big Ten also said that a team under the threshold will have the option to play if it deems it safe to do so.

The Big Ten, home of Michigan and Michigan State, said it will take the lead role in attempting to reschedule all postponed games.

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

In the Mid-American Conference, home of Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Western Michigan, postponed games that can't be made up will be declared a no-contest. The Horizon League, home of Oakland and Detroit Mercy, has said canceled games will be considered on an individual basis, with commissioner Julie Roe Lach determining whether each will be a no-contest or a forfeit, based on information submitted by each canceling team. She gave UIC and IUPUI no-contests for upcoming games.

Only one state Division I school has had a publicly acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak this college basketball season — Eastern Michigan, which postponed multiple men's and women's basketball games. Western Michigan women's conference opener scheduled for Wednesday against Ball State has been postponed. 

Michigan State men will be without four players for Wednesday's game against High Point, but the team still has enough to play on, Tom Izzo announced Tuesday.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984