SEC commish: Medical experts gave conference green light to effort toward 2020 college football season

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)(Mark Humphrey | AP)
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 2:24 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- As the 2020 college football season hangs in the balance, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has been steadfast that the conference is doing everything it can to safely play football in the fall. Sankey stressed patience and promised to make diligent decisions on Monday as rumors swirled about other conferences canceling their seasons.

Appearing Tuesday on the "Dan Patrick Show," Sankey relayed that the conference's presidents and chancellors have been given a green light by their medical advisory group to proceed with preseason preparation. Sankey specifically pointed to the conference's additional health protocols, but also reiterated that fans also have an obligation to continue to adhere to best practices such as social distancing and wearing a mask. 

Sankey's message was a continuation of the what he wrote on his Twitter account, noting that the best advice he's received since COVID-19 is: "Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you'll gain better information each day."

"SEC has been deliberate at each step since March...slowed return to practice...delayed 1st game to respect start of fall semester.....Developed testing protocols...We know concerns remain," Sankey continued. "We have never had a FB season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don't know. We haven't stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day, and will continue to do so...every day."

Sankey's message of patience came as the Big Ten presidents will reportedly meet Tuesday to make a final decision on whether to cancel, delay or proceed with the scheduled fall football season. It's been widely reported that the Pac-12 would follow suit if the Big Ten cancels.

That would leave the ACC, Big 12 and SEC with decisions to make about whether to proceed with the season. But Sankey's message of patience suggests the league is not ready to call off the season yet as players rally behind the #WeWantToPlay movement, which picked up momentum Monday with President Donald Trump tweeting his support for the cause.

The SEC announced July 30 that it planned to play a 10-game, conference-only schedule and pushed the start of its season to Sept. 26. Sankey said the adjusted schedule offered “the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur,” and the league went ahead Friday with announcing which additional two opponents for each team in the conference. 

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