FAYETTEVILLE – The starts of actual competition and scrimmage exhibitions for SEC teams in men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball are “postponed at least through Aug. 31,” the SEC Office announced Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala.
The postponements relate to trying to minimize and guard against the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that cancelled the entire spring sports semester schedule from mid-March through June and still rages particularly in the South and Southwest including the SEC’s 11 states housing league members Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
“The decision will provide additional time to prepare for the safe return of competition on an adjusted timeline,” the SEC announced Tuesday.
Football for now is unaffected. The first football game with a SEC team is Kentucky vs. Eastern Michigan on Sept. 3 then a Sept. 5 Saturday slate of games that includes Arkansas’ scheduled season-opener at Reynolds Razorback Stadium against the University of Nevada.
At Arkansas, Coach Colby Hale’s defending SEC soccer champion Razorbacks will either postpone or cancel six matches scheduled for August.
They include Aug. 9 and Aug. 14 scrimmages vs. Memphis in Memphis and Oral Roberts in Fayetteville and nonconference matches Aug. 20 at Duke and Aug. 23 at North Carolina and home matches Aug. 28 and Aug. 30 against the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and Wyoming.
Barring rescheduling from August, Hale’s Razorbacks would open the season Sept. 4 at Oklahoma in Norman.
Coach Jason Watson’s Razorbacks volleyball team must either postpone or cancel their three games in two days Razorback Classic at Barnhill Arena with an Aug. 29 morning match against Southern Illinois and Aug. 29 evening match against Louisiana Tech and an Aug. 30 afternoon match against Davidson.
For now Tuesday’s SEC announcement does not affect the Arkansas Razorbacks reigning SEC champion cross country men’s team of Coach Chris Bucknam and reigning NCAA champion/SEC champion women’s cross country team of Coach Lance Harter. Their teams currently are scheduled to open their seasons with an invitational home meet Sept. vs some nearby schools nonconference.
Hale and Watson both issued statements Tuesday through the UA Communications department.
““Throughout this process the top priority for all of us has been the health and well-being of our student-athletes, fans and staff,” Hale said, praising SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek. “We all appreciate the hard work and leadership from Commissioner Sankey, Hunter and others during a very difficult time so we will continue to listen to the guidelines and information they provide. When the time comes, we’ll have a plan and be ready to go.”
Watson also praised the SEC and athletic department cooperation.
“Together, our Athletic Department and the SEC, have made the safety of our student-athletes their overriding priority,” Watson said. “The decision today to delay the start of our season is reflective of that shared priority. As a program, we’re committed to playing volleyball this Fall. That’s our goal. We are thankful for the countless hours people on our campus and at the SEC have spent, and continue to spend, on making our goal possible.”