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Big Ten games canceled due to COVID-19 will result in forfeit, conference says

The announcement from the Big Ten comes just five days before the first conference football game kicks off between Nebraska and Illinois.

INDIANAPOLIS — Just five days before the first Big Ten conference college football game kicks off, the conference announced Monday that a team must forfeit if it doesn’t have enough players available for a league game because of COVID-19. 

The Big Ten joins other Power Five conferences who have made similar announcements including the Big 12, ACC and Pac-12.

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The Big Ten said Monday the team that forfeits will be assessed a loss in the conference standings and its opponent will be credited with a win. If both teams are unable to compete on the date of a scheduled conference game because of COVID-19, and the game can’t be rescheduled, it will be considered a “no contest.”

The announcement from the Big Ten comes as the FDA has fully approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

In college football's shortened season last year, multiple Big Ten conference games were canceled due to COVID-19 outbreaks including the conference's biggest recurring game, Michigan vs. Ohio State.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is charging both teams with a forfeit if neither can play because of the virus.

Big 12 teams unable to play because of COVID-19, or any other reason, will have to forfeit and be given a loss in the conference standings. Same with the Big Ten, if both Big 12 teams can't play and the game can't be rescheduled it could be declared a no contest. The Pac-12 will also charge teams that can't play with a forfeit but haven't announced what will happen if both teams have COVID-19-related issues. 

The Southeastern Conference has not released its policy, but Commissioner Greg Sankey has warned that teams that can’t play will forfeit and that games will not be rescheduled.

The Big Ten's first conference game of the season will take place on Saturday, Aug. 28 between Nebraska and Illinois before most FBS schools kickoff the following weekend. 

The NFL has taken a similar stance this summer, saying games in the upcoming season canceled due to COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players could result in team forfeits as the league tries to encourage all players to receive vaccination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report