Pac-12 Announces Football Games Canceled Due to COVID-19 Will Result in Forfeits

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 12, 2021

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2019, file photo, the Pac-12 logo is displayed on the field at Sun Devil Stadium during an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State in Tempe, Ariz. As the wealthiest conferences  like the Pac-12 lay out plans they hope will protect athletes from contracting and spreading COVID-19, most of the schools in the second-tier of Division I football have given up on trying to play in the fall. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)
AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File

The Pac-12 officially announced Thursday that teams will be charged with a forfeit if they are unable to play because of COVID-19:

Pac-12 Conference @pac12

Pac-12 statement on 2021-22 Forfeiture Policy.<br><br>(2021-22 Policy: <a href="https://t.co/6bElpPSquq">https://t.co/6bElpPSquq</a>) <a href="https://t.co/4ON10EKmQ3">pic.twitter.com/4ON10EKmQ3</a>

"If an institution is unable to play a contest through its own fault, it shall forfeit such contest to its opponent," the release stated.

The Pac-12 held a shortened season in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, while games were simply canceled if either team was unable to field a full team because of positive tests and contact tracing. Neither team was charged with a win or loss in those circumstances.

Several teams in the conference finished the year playing only four games.

New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff is looking to avoid such problems in 2021, saying in July that he was "strongly encouraging" players to get vaccinated. He also noted then that his plans put forfeits on the table.

"I will tell you that I'm leaning towards going back to the pre-COVID rules that had a team that was not able to field enough players to forfeit the game," Kliavkoff said, per Heather Dinich of ESPN. "Part of that is around the financial implications and who bears that."

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey also broached the idea of forfeits while saying that games will not be postponed this season.

The latest news in the Pac-12 could have a significant impact on the upcoming season, especially with Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich announcing in July he would not get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Nine of the 12 schools in the conference are requiring vaccinations for all students.

This could create a competitive advantage for the programs that are able to avoid outbreaks during the upcoming season.