What happens if not all SEC states are open and ready to play football in the fall? Greg Sankey shares his thoughts
No one knows how the upcoming college football season will play out following the coronavirus pandemic but with things starting to look up in several states across the country, many are now wondering what happens to sports if one state is on lockdown while the rest are open?
This is one of the many hypothetical questions being asked of power brokers across the sport and one SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was asked during a recent appearance on Jacksonville-based radio program XL Primetime.
Should a scenario play out where one or more conferences decide not to play the upcoming college football season while the rest do, how would that be handled?
“There is room for different conferences to make different decisions, but we are all interconnected,” Sankey answered during his appearance on the show. “When we were playing in basketball tournaments, there was no connection. We are all in different arenas playing each other.”
Of course, Sankey notes a regular season in football is much different than tournament play in basketball.
“If there’s a couple of programs that aren’t able, does that stop everyone? I’m not sure it does but the ability for us to stay connected will remain important,” he added.
While not one to delve deep into hypotheticals, Sankey was willing to share his thoughts regarding a situation in which one of the 11 states that represent the Southeastern Conference may not be open for travel due to the coronavirus.
“So, the answer is, that’s the hard circumstance. And the reason to heed the advice at the beginning of the program is we want to do this together, and we need to do this together,” Sankey said. “Now, what are the elements that would resolve the differentials among our 11 states? I think the ability to answer that is actually included in the hypothetical. So, could a state have fewer fans, some fans, no fans? That answered the question, could they not gather their team members at all? That’s a whole different element to this.
“So now, looking at what type of preparatory time is needed. How do we communicate that nationally and so the NCAA has a role because we govern practice time and practice dates nationally. Because we missed spring football, because we altered spring conditioning, those have to change. Those start to inform the answer about, ‘What if one does this and one can do that? Or 10 can do that but one cannot?’ Those will be the harder elements.
“Our hope is that people continue to pursue the healthy course. We are taking what I would consider to be radical measures now so that we can get through this, learn treatments, figure out how to manage ourselves socially and then get back to some type of normal function sooner rather than later.
“Hope is not a plan, but right now the desire would be to have 11 states and 14 institutions moving forward in a collective manner and, as I said, connected nationally so that we can celebrate the return of college sports.”
Based on Sankey’s response, it would require an incredibly complex solution to deal with that outcome but that’s something the SEC may have to consider in the weeks to come.