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Pac-12 to declare a forfeit if a football team can’t play ‘through its own fault’

The Pac-12 logo is displayed on the field at Sun Devil Stadium
Any Pac-12 team unable to play through its own fault this season will have to forfeit, the conference said Thursday.
(Ralph Freso / Associated Press)

The Pac-12 announced Thursday that any conference team “unable to play a contest through its own fault” this season will be forced to forfeit. New Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff will ultimately make the decision.

Any forfeited contest will be considered a loss for the team at fault.

The policy marks a return to the conference’s long-standing rules on forfeiture. But with COVID-19 likely to impact college football through 2021, the rule could come into play this season far more than before.

Last season, the Pac-12 was forced to step in and declare USC’s critical November matchup with Colorado a no-contest after three positive COVID-19 cases left the Trojans without the necessary number of players to field its offensive line. Under the current policy, USC would have forfeited the game, and Colorado likely would have gone on to represent the Pac-12 South in the conference championship game.

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Helton said at Pac-12 media day last month that the Trojans boasted a vaccination rate above 90% among players, and that all of their coaches and support staff were vaccinated.

Fall camp could paint the picture of USC’s backup quarterback competition between Miller Moss and Jaxson Dart.

If any of the team’s unvaccinated players test positive or are deemed to come in close contact with someone who tests positive, they’ll have to isolate for 10 days. A vaccinated player, on the other hand, must isolate for three days and provide a negative test.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly’s team is subject to similar COVID-19 safety protocols. However, even a vaccinated player would have to isolate for “approximately 10 days” if he tests positive, a university spokesman said Wednesday.

The Bruins, however, typically disclose no injury details, making it harder to confirm the reasons for player absences. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed the first seven UCLA practices for undisclosed reasons. Kelly said it should not impact Thompson-Robinson’s preparation for the season.

Kelly said Wednesday that 98% of the players are vaccinated, with a small group that has received a waiver.


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