The Big 12 announced Friday that teams will need to have at least 53 players available for football games this season as the conference nears the beginning of a season that will be played amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the conference has established player minimums for certain position groups. Teams will be required to have at least seven available offensive linemen, four available interior defensive linemen and one quarterback. The 53-player minimum and position minimums include walk-on players as part of the totals.
If a team has 53 or more players available but cannot field the required number of players at a certain position, they will still have the option to play, if they desire. However, if the team chooses not to play, the game will be declared a "no contest" and moved to a later date. The league's game-cancellation protocols are the first to be released by any conference even though the FBS season is already underway.
The first scheduled Big 12 game of the year was supposed to be TCU taking on SMU on Sept. 11. However, that game has been postponed after the Horned Frogs discovered a rise in positive COVID-19 tests.
The league's other nine teams are scheduled to be in action the following day, Sept. 12, for their season openers against nonconference teams. Conference play is slated to begin Sept. 26. The league built its schedule plan with flexibility as a priority in the event of health-related cancellations. All teams have two bye weeks, and the league has the option to move its championship game back from Dec. 12 to Dec. 19, if needed.