FAYETTEVILLE – SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey implying the current situation with the coronavirus COVID-19 “must improve,” proved the most incisive quote from Monday’s SEC Athletic Director’s meeting attended by the 14-team’s leagues ADs at the SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.
From mid-March on by NCAA decree and acceptance by all college teams the COVID-19 pandemic terminated all the since collegiate completed men’s and women’s spring semester’s sports competition and practices for teams like football that would have practiced out of season.
The virus’ summer surge has caused the Ivy League already to abandon its fall sports schedule and caused two Power Five conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac 12, to reduced its fall sports competition including football to within conference only.
With the virus raging at peak levels throughout most of the SEC’s 11-state, the AD’s had much to consider Monday though revealing no concrete plans.
“It is clear that current circumstances related to COVID-19 must improve and we will continue to closely monitor developments around the virus on a daily basis,” Sankey said Monday in a statement issued through the SEC Office. “In the coming weeks we will continue to meet regularly with campus leaders via videoconferences and gather relevant information while guided by medical advisors. We believe that late July will provide the best clarity for making the important decisions ahead of us.”
Monday’s meeting, the held in the SEC’s largest conference room to accommodate social distancing since the SEC Basketball Tournament canceled March 12 by the pandemic after one round in Nashville, Tenn., included, the SEC Office stated “a report from members of the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force and discussed issues relevant to the current pre-season calendar and the approaching fall seasons of competition, including an update on current COVID-19 testing procedures.”
“We had a productive meeting on Monday and engaged in discussions on a number of important issues that will contribute to critical decisions to be made in the weeks ahead,” Sankey said. “The ability to personally interact over the course of an entire day contributed to the productivity of the meeting.”
Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, in a statement issued through the Razorbacks sports information department, said, “Today’s meeting was another productive step as we work collaboratively to face the many challenges related to this pandemic.”
Yurachek noted major decisions await affecting many.
“The purposeful way in which the SEC has approached these complex issues has enabled us to review the most updated data as we focus on the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff members and fans,” Yurachek said. “As a self-sustaining athletics program at the University of Arkansas, we have an obligation to explore ways to mitigate the financial impact of those decisions, including our ability to continue to fully support the academic, athletic and personal development of our 465 student-athletes.”
In the meantime, athletes from the Razorbacks and all SEC teams continue voluntary on campus weightlifting, and conditioning plus virtual Zoom meetings with their coaches.
On July 24 the Razorbacks football team can begin no-contact walkthroughs leading into the scheduled Aug. 7 start of preseason practice.