SEC commissioner Greg Sankey voiced his concerns about the upcoming football season and said, “We are running out of time to correct and get things right.”
During an appearance on ESPN radio’s Marty & McGee Saturday morning, Sankey called his concerns “high to very high” while addressing spiking coronavirus cases around the country and the decisions the SEC faces about the football schedule.
“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, per ESPN. “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.”
Sankey’s interview followed the Big Ten and Pac-12‘s announcements this week that they will play conference-only schedules in the fall. On a Thursday teleconference with reporters, Ohio State AD Gene Smith said he is no longer “cautiously optimistic” about a football season being held this fall.
The SEC does not plan to make a decision until late July, although the conference has summoned its 14 athletic directors to meet in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday to discuss the fall sports schedule. Sources told Sports Illustrated‘s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger that the meeting has been planned for at least two weeks and is not in response to virus-related shutdown news Thursday across college football.
The Big 12 and the ACC also anticipate a decision by late July.
On Friday, ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement that the league will “work on the best possible path forward for the return of competition” in a way that “appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic mission.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has previously described the latest COVID-19 spikes as “detrimental” to the process and said Thursday it’s still “too early” to reach a decision.
“What I’ve tried to do is both keep a focus on what’s ahead but provide reality, which has been 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. “And the reality right now is the trends in our region, in our nation, are not in the positive direction for being able to have normal experiences.”
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