When is SEC Media Days?
SEC Media Days start Monday, July 19, and run through Thursday, July 22. The event will be live streamed on fuboTV. The event certainly will have its fair share of talk about the College Football Playoff expansion as well as name, image and likeness. There will also be a number of first-time SEC coaches at the podium. al.comSEC Media Days 2021 live stream: How to watch online for free, TV, time, full schedule
A year removed from an adjusted, and abbreviated, football schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SEC does not have safeguards in place to navigate potential in-season disruptions due to the disease. Meaning, if a team has an outbreak or sees its roster significantly impacted due to health and safety protocols, it may be forced to forfeit games this fall.
“Let’s just indicate like the realities we deal with,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Monday at the start of SEC Media Days in Hoover. “You hope not to have disruption, but hope is not a plan is the great cliche…. You’re expected to play as scheduled. That means you team needs to be healthy to compete, and if not, that game won’t be rescheduled. And thus, to dispose of the game, the ‘forfeit’ word comes up at this point.”
The SEC still has in place roster minimums that were enacted last season to ensure teams had the requisite number of available players each week. Those guidelines included at least 53 available scholarship athletes, including at least seven offensive linemen—one of which must be a center, one quarterback and four defensive backs. Teams were still able to play with fewer than the minimum, or with fewer at those aforementioned positions, but if they fell below those thresholds, the options of rescheduling that week’s game or declaring a no-contest were both on the table.
The league rescheduled multiple games during the 2020 season and even canceled Vanderbilt’s game at Georgia due to COVID-19 protocols.
Sankey said Monday that he has proposed to the league’s 14 schools lifting those roster minimums this season, though nothing has been decided on that front.
With a full 12-game season, including nonconference games, set to begin Labor Day weekend, there aren’t any built-in open dates — or a one-week buffer between the end of the regular season and the SEC title game — for teams to potentially reschedule games. That brings into play the possibility for forfeitures if teams are unable to field enough healthy players to compete in a given week.
“That’s not a policy, and what you see are the bookends now for decision-making,” Sankey said. “We’ve not built in the kind of time we did last year, particularly at the end of the season, to accommodate disruption. And unless we’re going to do that, our teams are going to have to be fully prepared to play their season as scheduled, which is why embedded in my remarks is the vaccination motivation.”
Sankey reiterated the conference’s campaign to advocate for vaccinations, not just among teams, but among fanbases within its footprint as the most surefire way to ensure a close-enough-to-normal season this fall. Currently, the 11 states within the SEC’s footprint rank in the bottom half nationally in terms of percentage of population to have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including seven of the nine lowest rates — Mississippi (38 percent; 51st), Louisiana (40 percent; 49th), Alabama (41 percent; 48th), Tennessee (43 percent; 46th), Georgia (44 percent; 45th), Arkansas (44 percent; 44th) and South Carolina (45 percent; 43rd) — among the 50 states and Washington D.C.
Sankey also announced Monday that six of the SEC’s 14 football teams — 43 percent of the league’s programs — have reached the 80 percent vaccination threshold. If teams reach the 85 percent vaccination threshold, they are not required to test regularly or wear masks inside school facilities.
“That number needs to grow and grow rapidly,” Sankey said. “We have learned how to manage through a COVID environment, but we do not yet have control of a COVID environment, and that finds us preparing to return towards normal this fall, but we see realities around us.”
That includes the recent College World Series, when NC State saw its season come to an end due to a no-contest resulting from COVID protocol issues, as well as seeing Olympians — such as tennis star Coco Gauff — drop out of the upcoming Summer Games due to positive tests, and even a New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game being postponed last week.
“Each reminds us of the need to be vigilant about our health,” Sankey said. “Let me be clear to our fans, to our coaches, to our staff members, and to our student-athletes: COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. They’ve proven to be highly effective. And when people are fully vaccinated, we all have the ability to avoid serious health risks, reduce the virus’ spread, and maximize our chances of returning to a normal college football experience and to normal life.
“With six weeks to go before kickoff, now is the time to seek that full vaccination. And we know nothing is perfect, but the availability and the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines are an important and incredible product of science. It’s not a political football, and we need to do our part to support a healthy society because, as we look back, the potential absence of college sports last year caused us to think about not losing sight of the lifelong experiences, the laboratory of learning that takes place, and the educational benefits that accrue to the people who participate on our teams.”
Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.
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Read full article at Sports Illustrated
19 July, 2021 - 09:01pm
19 July, 2021 - 02:32pm
During his opening appearance at the 2021 SEC Media Days conference, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey dropped some important news for the upcoming football season in relation to COVID.
“That means your team needs to be healthy to compete,” said Sankey in the press conference. “And if not, that game won’t be rescheduled.”
During the 2020 regular season, teams and conferences routinely worked to reschedule, postpone, or figure out some way around a COVID outbreak for a team.
However, Sankey has said that any game in the 2021 season that cannot be played due to COVID will not be rescheduled.
(Photo courtesy of Tennessee Athletics Communication)
Sankey mentioned the expectations that each team has in his full statement.
“So let’s just indicate like the realities we deal with,” Sankey said. “You hope not to have disruption, but hope is not a plan is the great cliche. We still have roster minimums that exist, just like last year. What I’ve identified for consideration among our membership is we remove those roster minimums and you’re expected to play as scheduled. That means your team needs to be healthy to compete, and if not, that game won’t be rescheduled.”
SEC Commissioner Sankey also pointed to the SEC’s vaccination statistics during his opening press conference.
“Right now 43 percent of our football teams, that’s six of 14, have reached the 80 percent threshold in roster vaccination,” Sankey said at SEC Media Days. “That number needs to grow and grow rapidly.”
So, there it is. According to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, all teams are being highly encouraged to seek vaccination as well. Otherwise, if a team is unable to play due to a COVID outbreak, that team’s game will not be rescheduled.
Sankey also mentioned that teams may have to forfeit if they cannot play. However, that has not been fully ironed out among the league’s officials yet.
“We’ve not built in the kind of time we did last year, particularly at the end of the season, to accommodate disruption,” said SEC Commissioner Sankey. “And unless we’re going to do that, our teams are going to have to be fully prepared to play their season as scheduled, which is why embedded in my remarks is the vaccination motivation.”