Everything you need to know about the Big Ten’s COVID-19 protocols

Everything you need to know about the Big Ten's COVID-19 protocols originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The University of Maryland football’s highly-anticipated matchup against the No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes was canceled, as eight members of the Terrapins tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Maryland was not the first Big Ten team to experience an outbreak, as Wisconsin has had two matchups canceled following their Oct. 23 victory due to a spike within their program.

With Saturday’s game canceled, many Terps fans — and college football fans across the country — are wondering what’s next.

Here is a guide to the Big Ten’s COVID-19 protocols.

What happens when a player or coach tests positive?

When a Big Ten player tests positive, they will be held out of practice and games for 21 days. This is by far a harsher penalty than any of the other four major conferences, as they follow the CDC guidelines of 10 days of isolation.

The 21-day period is to allow players to go through a cardiovascular evaluation. They also must receive clearance from doctors before returning.

For coaches that test positive, they’ll only be required to isolate for 10 days.

How many players need to test positive for a team to cancel its game?

Games will be canceled if either team’s positivity rate is above 5% and its overall traveling party (coaches and on-field staff) exceeds 7.5%.

Most Big Team teams have about 100 players on their roster, meaning a 5% positivity would mean five players test positive. The Terps had eight, for comparison.

This, like the isolation period, is a lot stricter in the Big Ten than it is for other conferences. In the other four major conferences, if each team has 53 or more players healthy and eligible, the game is on. 

Teams are not required to give an inactive list prior to games, however, which is different than other conferences.

Does a game getting canceled result in a loss for the team who had the outbreak?

No, it doesn’t. Let’s look at Maryland-Ohio State for example.

Although the outbreak occurred in the Terps program, Maryland is not required to forfeit the game. The game is canceled outright, meaning both Maryland and Ohio State will only play eight games this season.

How do canceled games impact each team’s eligibility for the Big Ten Championship?

As of now, five teams in the Big Ten have had at least one of their scheduled games canceled due to COVID-19. All five still remain eligible to compete in the conference championship game, for now.

According to Big Ten protocols, all teams must have played in a minimum of six games to be eligible for the conference championship. This number will only be lowered if the average number of games played for each team ends up being below six. In that case, it would be changed to four games as a minimum for conference championship eligibility.

The only team that is currently in danger of being ineligible for the conference title game is Wisconsin, who had two games canceled due to their outbreak following their Week 1 win.

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