The annual football game between Michigan and Ohio has been canceled as a result of the increase in COVID-19 cases during the first week of December 2020.
This decision was made after thorough conversations with the health department officials, medical experts, the university administration, and considering the NCAA COVID-19 Protocol.
According to Michigan athletic director, Warde Manuel, the team has not been cleared to participate in practice at this time since the number of positive tests has increased over the last seven days. The athletic director also stated that they would not be able to field a team due to the associated quarantining required of close-contact individuals of those who tested positive for COVID-19. Considering that the health and safety of the team and coaches are paramount, they decided to cancel the game altogether.
Michigan’s chief medical officer, Darryl Conway, wouldn’t specify how many players were in contact tracing or how many players tested positive. But, what he did say was that the Wolverines did not fall in the red-red threshold that would require the Big Ten to pause activities for the program.
The Big Ten measures population positivity rate and test positivity rate. A red-red designation would mean that the test positivity rate is higher than 5% and the population positivity rate is higher than 7.5%. A team under the orange category, below red, must proceed with caution and ensure they enhance COVID-19 prevention.
The athletic director also stated that no matter how much they wanted to play the game, they made sure to put the health and safety of their student-athletes, coaches, and staff as their first priority. Manuel also said that until they had a good sense and control of the situation and would not move forward, especially with knowing the amount of COVID cases in their team right now.
On 5th December, the Wolverines paused all team activities. They also canceled their game against Maryland. The Wolverines were cleared for limited workouts on Monday but the administration decided to cancel the game since the number of student-athletes in quarantine increased over the past week.
Michigan stated that they’ll continue their daily testing with hopes of getting back on the practice field once cleared by medical officials. With the cancellation of this game, Ohio State has played a total of five games this season, which is under the necessary amount put forth by the Big Ten conference to compete in the championship game against Northwestern.
The Big Ten rule states that every team must play in six games to qualify for the championship game unless the average number of games played during the conference falls below six. At such unprecedented times for everybody, the Big Ten must make sure they’re flexible and able to move and make decisions based on the data they have.