UMaine Coach Nick Charlton shouts instructions during the team’s first preseason practice, on Aug. 4. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Colonial Athletic Association announced Wednesday that any football team that cannot play because of a COVID-19 outbreak will forfeit that game.

The University of Maine plays only football in the CAA, opening its season on Sept. 2 with a 7 p.m. league home game against Delaware.

According to the new policy, “any game that cannot be played due to COVID-related circumstances would be considered a forfeit by the canceling team. The canceling team would receive a loss in the conference standings and the opposing team would be awarded a victory. The overall record of both teams would not change, since NCAA bylaws consider such games a ‘no contest.'”

In other words, the forfeit would not count toward a team’s overall record, which is important if the team is being considered for a Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth.

“These are unique times,” said Rob Washburn, the associate commissioner of the CAA. “We’re hoping we never have to use this policy.”

The CAA did not conduct a fall football season last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it played a compacted spring season in which 11 of its 12 teams competed. Towson did not.

Fourteen games were canceled this spring because of COVID-19 outbreaks, including the last two in Maine’s season. The Black Bears finished 2-2, with games against Rhode Island and New Hampshire canceled because of COVID-related issues at those schools.

After playing 16 games over the first four weeks of the spring, the CAA played only three over the final three weeks, and one was a nonconference encounter between Delaware and Delaware State.

According to the league’s new policy, if a game is canceled because both teams are having COVID-related issues, the game will be declared a “no contest” and will not count on either team’s conference record.

Teams will be given a 24-hour window to play the game.

“The reason that is put in is, if a team needs some extra time to contact trace or retest, it buys them 24 hours to figure out if they have enough guys to play,” said Washburn. “Hopefully vaccination rates will be high enough so we won’t have to worry about it. With games played each week, there’s really no place to reschedule.”

UMaine Coach Nick Charlton said the Black Bears will try to continue to stay healthy and safe. Maine did not have a single positive test result among its players or staff during the CAA’s spring season.

“I think we just have to follow the protocols and do things the right way,” said Charlton. “Ultimately, it’s all about he health and safety of the players, so we’re just going to react off those rules.”

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