DENVER — Colorado State men’s basketball is currently undefeated (10-0) and ranked No. 21 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. If the Mountain West fails to change its forfeit policy regarding cancellations caused by COVID-19, however, the Rams may record their first loss of the 2021-22 campaign without even stepping on the court.
According to a tweet that has since been deleted from Brian Roth, CSU’s play-by-play analyst for both football and men’s basketball, the Rams are going to be on pause until late into next week, meaning the first conference game of the season is going to be cancelled. The Rams are currently slated to open up Mountain West play at New Mexico on Dec. 28 but Roth originally tweeted on Tuesday evening that the game is not going to happen. While the news is not official from the conference as of yet, and Roth took the post down, assumingly after being told from the school to not post about it prematurely, if Roth believes the game isn’t happening then it isn’t happening.
According to the current policy in place, “if a Mountain West contest cannot be played as scheduled due to a team’s inability to participate related to COVID-19 issues, the game shall be considered a forfeit for that team and will not be rescheduled”. Originally put in place to essentially punish teams that failed to get their rosters vaccinated, making it much more likely for their games to be cancelled over the season, the policy made more sense in the past. Now that teams with fully vaccinated rosters are experiencing outbreaks and having to miss games, though, it makes no sense to punish them. They’ve taken all the steps possible to prevent this outcome but sometimes there’s just no stopping nature.
CSU is the middle of one the most exciting seasons in program history. Before we’ve even entered conference play the Rams have already achieved the highest ranking since 1953-54. It would be an absolute travesty for this group to lose their undefeated season due to a technicality, especially when the conference has plenty of time to update the policy.
Having said all of this, I fully expect the Mountain West to do the right thing and update the policy. Not doing so would be jeopardizing the standing of the only ranked team in the league and that benefits absolutely no one. I fully understand that the conference also has to dictate what will happen with the game, like if it will be considered a “no contest” or if the contest will be rescheduled. And all of these things take time to iron out.
But until we see that press release from the league informing everyone that after reevaluating the landscape they’ve decided to make a change to the rules, the public needs to put pressure on the MW to get this done.
Do the right thing. Change the COVID-19 forfeit policies.