Sports

Sankey, SEC activate COVID-19 forfeiture policy

SEC teams that can’t play in a game because of COVID-19, injuries or other reasons will forfeit and have a loss in the conference standings, while the opponent that is ready to play will be credited with a win, the conference announced on Monday.

If both teams can’t play because of COVID-19 or other reasons, they will have to forfeit and each team will take a loss in the conference standings. Commissioner Greg Sankey can declare a “no contest for any event if extraordinary circumstances warrant,” according to a news release. Tiebreaker procedures will apply for determining the conference championship game and division winners if needed.

If a school that is able to play suffers a “direct financial loss” from a cancellation, it can submit a request for reimbursement to be considered by the SEC executive committee.

The SEC was the last Power 5 conference to announce its forfeiture policy following a 2020 season that was perpetually disrupted by cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic. While the highly contagious delta variant remains a concern, the majority of FBS commissioners have opted to use the forfeit rule as a way to encourage teams to get vaccinated.

The Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Mountain West Conference and American Athletic Conference have also determined that if one team can’t play a game because of COVID-19, they will forfeit the game and it won’t be rescheduled.

The Pac-12 is similar, with a bit of nuance in its wording. Instead of directly referencing COVID-19 as the reason a team would be unable to play and forced to forfeit, the Pac-12 rule states: “If an institution is unable to play a contest through its own fault, it shall forfeit such contest to its opponent.”

The rule gives commissioner George Kliavkoff the discretion to determine “whether an institution is at fault or primarily at fault for an inability to play a contest based on the facts of the situation.”

In the Big Ten and Big 12, if both teams can’t play because of COVID-19, it will be declared a no-contest. The ACC is like the SEC, where both teams will have to forfeit and take a loss in the conference standings if they can’t play because of COVID-19.

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