The school announced that the annual competition game between Michigan and Ohio has been canceled due to an increase in COVID-19 cases over the past week within the Wolverines program.
The decision was made after talks with medical experts, health administration officials and the university administration.
“The number of positive tests has continued to rise over the past seven days,” said Michigan Athletics Director Manuel Ward. “We have not been allowed to participate in the practice at this time. Unfortunately, we will not be able to form a team due to the COVID-19 positives and the associated quarantine required of close contacts.
“This decision is disappointing for our team and our coaches, but their health and safety is paramount, and it will always come first in our decision-making.”
Michigan Chief Medical Officer Daryl Conway on Tuesday did not specify how many players had tested positive or how many players had been in contact tracing, but said that the Wolverines had not fallen into the red and red boundaries that would have required the Big Ten to pause the program’s activities.
The Big Ten test measures the rate of positivity and the rate of positivity of a population. Designation in red and red would mean a test positive rate higher than 5% and a population positive rate higher than 7.5%. The team that falls into the orange category, below the red, should proceed with caution and step up prevention against COVID-19, which could lead to games being canceled and team activities temporarily suspended.
“It became clear to all of us that no matter how much we wanted to play the game, we started it again in March with the goal of making the health and safety of our student-athletes, our coaches, and our staff safe,” said Manuel. How we want to play this great game against Ohio. We have to put their health and safety first. And until we have a good feeling and control over that, there is no reason to go forward knowing that we do not have a good treatment for COVID cases on our team at the moment. “
The Wolverines canceled their match against Maryland on December 5 and temporarily suspended all team activities. The program was approved for limited training on Monday and participated in those exercises, but the administration decided to cancel the game due to an increase in cases and the number of student-athletes in quarantine over the past week.
Michigan says it will continue with the daily test in hopes of returning to the field of practice when approved by medical officials.
Cancellation of this game places Ohio in a total of five matches played this season, which is below the limit set by the Big Ten Conference to compete in the convention championship match against Northwestern.
Ohio State Football Association (OhioStateFB) December 8, 2020
The rule states that teams must play six matches to qualify for the tournament game, unless the average number of matches throughout the conference is less than six.
“We will continue to be transparent,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said on Tuesday. “We will be constantly communicating internally with our coaches and sports directors as we continue to make decisions that will affect our conference over the next two weeks. We will work through these issues … smarter during these times. This has never happened before.”
According to the sources, the top ten athletes’ managers will meet on Wednesday, where they can discuss a change of standard.
“I think we have to take a hard look periodically at all of these things, and this is one of those situations,” Bocaines coach Ryan Day said on Tuesday. “If we don’t get the matches we need in the tournament match, I think that needs to be looked at seriously, just like everyone else at the conference. There is no easy solution at times like this.”
“I know these guys will get together and take a hard look at it and make sure it was the right decision.”
Manuel agreed with Day that he would consider changing the rules if Ohio was unable to meet the six-game requirement. Manuel said he believes Team Buckeyes is one of the top four teams in the country and should be given a chance to play in the College Football Playoff, if selected in the top four.
“I don’t think anybody, Ohio State or any other team, should be punished just because the decisions we made by looking at eight games and saying we should play six games,” Manuel said. “ … I’ll be open, and I think the conference will be open, to have a discussion about whether or not we have to make adjustments, and whether or not the schedules should be adjusted to have Ohio play enough games, either six or to play in the five-person tournament match. But I don’t think we should just say, “Well, we said six, so that’s going to be the case.”
“I think the conversation deserves to happen, to see if we can make any adjustments. These are unprecedented times for everyone, and we need to make sure that we are flexible and able to move and make decisions based on the data we have.”
Additionally, if another Big Ten game is canceled for Saturday, the convention could move around the games in an effort to get Ohio to play.
If Purdue, which abolished the practice on Tuesday to assess its latest COVID-19 tests, is forced to cancel against Indiana, the Big Ten can move across the games or restart Indiana and Ohio State again.
If the convention does not change its rules and Ohio does not play on Saturday, Indiana will be the representative for the Eastern Division in the convention championship match.