In 2020, during the college football comeback, many teams were forced to miss games due to Covid outbreaks and concerns.
Those games were obviously just treated as no contests; it was an evolving science and it would have been harsh to treat those lost games otherwise. Now, though, with vaccines widely available, much more data, and an extra year to build up protocols, conferences are pivoting towards holding schools accountable for missed games.
The latest to do so: the Big Ten, which joined the Big 12 and Pac-12 in announcing that missed games will be considered losses. The only way a game would be a no-contest is if both teams are unable to play.
Via the Big Ten:
In collaboration and communication with the Big Ten Conference Athletic Directors, Chancellors and Presidents, the Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, and the Sports Medicine Committee – effective today – the conference has determined that if one of its member institutions is unable to play a conference contest due to COVID-19, that contest shall be declared a forfeit and will not be rescheduled.
That contest shall be considered a loss for the team impacted by COVID-19 and a win for its opponent in the conference standings. If both of the two competing teams are unable to participate in a scheduled Conference competition due to COVID-19 and as a result the competition is unable to occur on the calendar day on which it is scheduled, the competition shall be considered a “no contest.”
This obviously goes for all sports, not just for football, though as with everything college sports-related, football is the most visible. It’s likely that every major conference is going to adopt this procedure or something similar this fall.
Considering a lot of college teams have managed to hit some high vaccine rates so far, hopefully this won’t end up mattering at all, but if it does come up there could be some big consequences to various conference championship races.