American Athletic Conference amends COVID policies, allowing UH basketball to avoid forfeit loss

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Talk about a fast break.

Within a 24-hour period, the University of Houston men's basketball program was given a loss - via forfeit - and then had that defeat taken away.

"We did everything we could," Houston head men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson said Monday via Zoom. "We wanted to play. Last thing you want to do is cancel games."

As Sampson manages a COVID outbreak, with as many as 10 positive cases within his program, Tuesday's home game vs. Cincinnati was originally canceled Sunday afternoon. The Coogs' conference opener, via conference bylaws, would be considered a forfeit loss as Houston didn't have enough players available.

"We don't have enough to practice," Sampson noted.

But Monday morning, the American Athletic Conference unanimously approved updated COVID protocols - including a change to the forfeit policy. Tuesday's U of H game vs. Cincinnati is now postponed, not canceled. The Coogs are not dealt a forfeit loss.

"That rule, at the time - when they made it - made no sense," Sampson said. "And certainly when it hits you, because of COVID, we have to take a loss? There's nothing fair about that. But thankfully our conference got it right and we'll move on down the road."

But that road, Sampson says, will have its twists and turns.

"Cincinnati is 0-and-0, we are 0-and-0," he pointed out. "We have one game to make up, but it will not be our only game to make up."

The Coogs' next game is scheduled for Sunday at Temple. The new conference policy states a team needs seven scholarship players and one coach available for a game to be played. However, since the NCAA adheres to CDC recommendations, new guidance shortening the isolation and quarantine periods should allow college teams to return to play faster than ever before amid the pandemic.

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