Big Sky changes COVID schedule policy for men’s, women’s basketball
The Big Sky Conference has changed its COVID-19 basketball scheduling policy as more games drop off the schedule this week.
The Big Sky will now allow teams to reschedule games postponed due to COVID-19 infections and will help schools coordinate the rescheduling, the league announced Tuesday.
Previous policies put in place before this season in most conferences did not allow rescheduled games and would assign a forfeit loss to teams responsible for the spread of COVID-19 that canceled a given game. This was meant to incentivize players and coaches to be vaccinated.
Since then, most conferences have similarly reversed course as the omicron variant of the coronavirus has proven more contagious. While data shows vaccination still helps prevent serious illness or hospitalization against omicron, it is not as effective in preventing infection; thus, teams with fully vaccinated rosters can still be hit with positive tests.
The Big Sky will not schedule teams to play on consecutive days, and teams must have at least seven players and one full-time coach available for the game. Any game unable to be rescheduled with this criteria by the end of the regular season may be considered a no-contest.
League presidents approved the change after a recommendation from athletic directors.
This policy is also different from the 2020-21 season when Big Sky games lost to COVID-19 infections were outright canceled as no-contests and were not allowed to be rescheduled.
Multiple Big Sky teams Monday and Tuesday announced the postponement of games this week. As of Tuesday evening, both Weber State men’s and women’s basketball teams were preparing as scheduled to play one game this week, both Saturday against Idaho State (the women at home, the men in Pocatello).
As of Tuesday evening, the Big Sky did not have clarifying information to provide about how the conference plans to resolve potential competitive imbalances created if, or when, all games are not able to be rescheduled, as it pertains to determining regular-season champions and seeding conference tournaments.
Last season, the West Coast Conference hired advanced stats purveyor Ken Pomeroy to create a weighted conference standings formula that accounts for such imbalances. It’s unclear if the WCC will return to that method this season after all 17 of its opening-week men’s and women’s basketball games were postponed last week.