NJSIAA devises plan to deal with COVID forfeits, but it won’t take effect just yet

In an email to athletic directors around the state, the NJSIAA has announced that games cancelled due to COVID will be recorded as forfeits, but not until Week 8 of the football season.

The ruling by the Football Leagues and Conferences Committee comes as a number of teams across New Jersey – though not nearly as many as in 2020 – have had to cancel games due to COVID cases in their schools, on their teams, or due to contact tracing.

Two such cancellations occurred last week in the Big Central. St. Joseph-Metuchen had to cancel on Sayreville, while South River bowed out against St. Thomas Aquinas.

The forfeit ruling is important – compared to issuing a “no contest” – because NJSIAA football regulations for 2021 state that a minimum seven games will be used to average power points and OSI this season. Any team playing fewer than seven games would still have their total divided by seven, which would lead to an artifically low power point average.

Issuing forfeits – if the games can’t be resecheduled – maintains the proper math in power point averages.

What remains a question mark, however, and is unclear in the communication sent to ADs yesterday, is whether or not multiplier points will be awarded. For example, Sayreville would have gotten 42 multiplier power points for beating St. Joe’s, but only 12 under natural power points.

Central Jersey Sports Radio has reached out to the NJSIAA for a clarification, but did not immediately receive one. This post will be updated as information becomes available.

The question is: should a multiplier – an incentive for playing certain non-public teams – be awarded if the game is never played? A team’s schedule may be dependent on that game being played, and it might be perceived as pulling the rug out from under those teams to change it mid-season.

There’s precedent for awarding the multiplier when things don’t work out as planned. In 2017, Camden Catholic was a multiplier team, but after a slew of problems in the program including the departure of the head coach and several players, they went 0-7 but the state kept them as a multiplier so as not to affect the teams that had them on their schedules.

The email sent to ADs by the NJSIAA states: “Gmes canceled due to COVID, or the inability to field a team, that were unable to be replaced will be awarded a forfeit.”

It adds those forfeits “will not be reflected in a team’s records or UPR until the completion of Week 8 games.”

The idea is to allow teams a chance to reschedule those games. Even if they have a full schedule through the end of the regular season, those games could be made up if other cancellations happen, or even later on or around Thanksgiving. In the latter case, the games would not be forfeits; they would have just been played later in the season.

“In the best interest of our student-athletes, NJSIAA staff continues to encourage all schools to strive to replaace any cancelled game.”

The Leagues & Conferences Committee also made a ruling on Week 1 games cancelled due to the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which devastated many communities, and forced a slew of postponements and cancellations.

The email states “Games cancelled Week 2 due to Hurricane Ida that were unable to be replaced will be removed from the schedule and treated as a no contest.”

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