Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey will meet with the league’s athletic directors on Monday to discuss various scenarios about the 2020 SEC football season but sounded a grim note on Saturday, indicating that there was a reasonable possibility of no season at all without significant changes in the current coronavirus numbers and pandemic-related behaviors.
“That’s exactly what I said…and have been saying,” Sankey said on his Twitter account after an appearance on the Marty & McGee radio program on ESPN. “I want to provide the opportunity for college athletics to be part of the fall, but we need to all consider our behavior to make possible what right now appears very difficult. “
“The direct reality is not good…”
Asked about his level of concern for the upcoming season, Sankey said it was “high to very high.”
Sankey said the SEC continued to work toward a final decision regarding the season in late July, some two weeks away. He said that last week’s decisions by the Big 10 and Pac-12 to play conference games only — a decision that has cancelled the Alabama-USC game on September 5, among others, would not accelerate the SEC timetable.
“We put a medical advisory group together in early April with the question, ‘What do we have to do to get back to activity?’ and they’ve been a big part of the conversation,” Sankey said. “But the direct reality is not good and the notion that we’ve politicized medical guidance of distancing, and breathing masks, and hand sanitization, ventilation of being outside, being careful where you are in buildings. There’s some very clear advice about — you can’t mitigate and eliminate every risk, but how do you minimize the risk? … We are running out of time to correct and get things right, and as a society we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be.
“I’m going to focus on preparing to play the season as scheduled but acknowledge the circumstances around coronavirus are going to guide us in that decision-making,” Sankey said.
Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne indicated on Friday that Alabama would await a decision from the SEC before pursuing itself options in the wake of the USC game cancellation and a $6 million loss of its appearance fee for that game.
“As I’ve said before, USC AD Mike Bohn and I had multiple conversations over the last several months, and we were both planning on playing the football game on September 5 in Arlington. With the Pac-12’s decision to move to a conference-only schedule, we will do our best to adjust,” Byrne said. “What that looks like is to be determined.”
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