SEC, ACC, Big 12 move forward with plans to play

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey wants to see the football season move forward as planned, but he doesn’t want his conference to be the only one on that path.

Other entities such as the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 appear to be in alignment with the SEC, with plans to play this fall despite decisions from other conferences such as the Big Ten and Pac-12 to suspend play until at least the spring.

Sankey said in an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday morning that it’s unlikely the SEC would play a season on its own should the other Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences cancel the fall season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think that’s the right direction, really,” Sankey said, when asked if the SEC would be comfortable as the only conference playing football this fall.

“Could we? Certainly. There’s a difference between can you do something and should you do something in life. We’ve actually set up our schedule with our own health protocols; we could, if that’s the circumstance, operate on our own. I’m not sure that’s the wisest direction.”

After the Big Ten and Pac-12 both announced the postponement of the 2020 fall football season on Tuesday afternoon, the SEC released a statement from Sankey.

“I look forward to learning more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 leadership to take these actions today. I remain comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes,” Sankey said in the statement.

“We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day.”

The ACC plans to review the Pac-12’s decision during a conference call among university presidents on Wednesday, according to reports, but as of now the plan is for its schools to compete on the gridiron this fall.

“We are pleased with the protocols being administrated on our 15 campuses,” the ACC said in a statement. “We will continue to follow our process that has been in place for months and has served us well. We understand the need to stay flexible and be prepared to adjust as medical information and the landscape evolves.”

On Monday, the 12-team Mountain West joined the 12-team Mid-American Conference as other FBS leagues that have postponed their football season and fall sports.

Independents Connecticut and Massachusetts as well as Old Dominion of the Conference USA also have opted out of the fall football season.

Earlier Tuesday, Sankey dismissed reports that the SEC is considering adding programs from other conference that might cancel fall football.

“There are probably any number of legal, contractual, media -- I could go down the list of reasons that that’s not quite practical,” Sankey said.

Sankey also noted that the conference’s medical advisory group remains comfortable with the safety of current summer workout plans.

“Were that advice to change, it certainly would be a stopping point,” he said. “The indicators are we can right now do what we’re doing in a healthy way.”

--Field Level Media