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  • SEC ESTABLISHES NEW FOOTBALL START DATE OF SEPTEMBER 26 AND CONFERENCE-ONLY FOOTBALL

    BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (July 30, 2020) – The Southeastern Conference has established September 26 as the new kickoff for its 2020 football season to allow its universities to focus on the healthy return of their campus communities and the gradual re-introduction of athletics, as the 14 members of the SEC continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced Thursday.

    The 2020 SEC football season will be comprised of a 10-game Conference-only schedule and the SEC Football Championship Game will be played December 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, rescheduled from the original date of December 5. The schedule will include one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on December 12 for all schools.

    “This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” Sankey said. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

    This action was taken following extensive discussions and thorough deliberation among the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors, Athletics Directors, Conference Office staff, and medical advisors, led by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.

    “After careful consideration of the public health indicators in our region and following advice of our medical advisors, we have determined that this is the best course of action to prepare for a safe and healthy return to competition for SEC student-athletes, coaches and others associated with our sports programs,” said Sankey.

    The decision to limit competition to Conference-only opponents and rescheduling the SEC Championship Game is based on the need for maximum flexibility in making any necessary scheduling adjustments while reacting to developments around the pandemic and continued advice from medical professionals.

    “We believe these schedule adjustments offer the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur,” Sankey said. “It is regrettable that some of our traditional non-conference rivalries cannot take place in 2020 under this plan, but these are unique, and hopefully temporary, circumstances that call for unconventional measures.”

    The rescheduled start to the season will allow the SEC to continue to monitor health trends across its 11-state footprint, as well as monitor developments in technology around mitigation and treatment of the virus, including:

    Trends in public health indicators throughout the SEC’s 11-state footprint, including positive cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations and recovery statistics
    State, local and campus heath directives, including restrictions on gatherings, isolation requirements for travelers, and other health and travel restrictions
    Continued development of risk mitigation strategies
    Continued advancement in COVID-19 testing reliability and availability
    Continued evolution of time-based strategies for resuming activities after positive test results, including contact tracing, isolation and quarantine requirements
    Observation of successes and challenges presented by return to competition in other sports

    A revised schedule for the 2020 SEC football season will be announced at a later date following approval by the Conference’s athletics directors.

    Further decisions regarding safety standards related to athletics events, tailgating and other game day activities, including social distancing, face covering and other health measures consistent with CDC, state and local guidelines, will be announced at a later date.

    Other notes related to the resumption of competition:

    The SEC announced in July that the sports of men’s and women’s cross country, soccer and volleyball would be postponed through at least August 31. Start dates and schedules for those sports, as well as sports in their non-traditional seasons during the fall, will be announced at a later date.

    The SEC announced in July that student-athletes in all sports who elect to not participate in intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 academic semester because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.

    The SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force continues to meet on policies and procedures for the safe return of student-athletes to competition, including the development of comprehensive testing and reporting policies, building on the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines.

    Each athletics program has been engaged in evaluating best practices for game operations to prepare a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, staff, officials and other individuals necessary to conduct games.
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. StuBleedsBlue2's Avatar
      StuBleedsBlue2 -
      It will be an awesome season if the games are actually played. I fear that pushing the dates out to the start of the flu season without any real progress on containing the virus is just one step close to no games in 2020.

      EDIT:

      Just saw this quote from Stoops:

      Mark Stoops: “I’m glad there is a plan in place so we can move forward. I understand the decision to begin Sept. 26. Everyone would like to play full schedule, including Louisville, but this timing and format gives us our best opportunity to adjust to these unique circumstances"

      He's absolutely right. My fears still remain, though, but this is the best we have right now.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      LEXINGTON, Ky. –The Southeastern Conference announced Thursday an adjusted schedule for the 2020 football season. As a result, the start of the season has been delayed and Kentucky football will now play a 10-game schedule, all against SEC opponents, beginning on Sept. 26.

      A revised schedule for the 2020 SEC football season will be announced at a later date. UK’s 10-game schedule will include one mid-season open date and an open date on Dec. 12. The SEC Football Championship Game will be played Dec. 19 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, rescheduled from the original date of Dec. 5.

      “Our adjusted schedule puts us in the best possible position to play the 2020 football season,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We are excited to focus as a football program and an athletics department on preparing to kick off the season on Sept. 26.”

      The adjustment allows SEC universities to focus on the healthy return of campus communities and the gradual re-introduction of athletics, as the 14 members of the SEC continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19. The actions were taken following extensive discussions and thorough deliberation among the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors, Athletics Directors, Conference Office staff, and medical advisors, led by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.

      With the adjusted schedule, UK’s annual rivalry game with Louisville will not be played this season. The SEC’s decision to limit competition to Conference-only schedules and rescheduling of the SEC Championship Game is based on the need for maximum flexibility in making any necessary scheduling adjustments while reacting to developments around the pandemic and continued advice from medical professionals.

      “I fully support the SEC’s decision to move to conference-only games, though we are disappointed we won’t have the chance to compete with Louisville for the Governor’s Cup this season,” Barnhart said. “That series means a great deal to the Commonwealth and we look forward to working with Louisville to continue the series in seasons to come.”

      The rescheduled start to the season will allow the SEC to continue to monitor health trends across its 11-state footprint, as well as monitor developments in technology around mitigation and treatment of the virus, including:

      Trends in public health indicators throughout the SEC’s 11-state footprint, including positive cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations and recovery statistics

      State, local and campus heath directives, including restrictions on gatherings, isolation requirements for travelers, and other health and travel restrictions

      Continued development of risk mitigation strategies

      Continued advancement in COVID-19 testing reliability and availability

      Continued evolution of time-based strategies for resuming activities after positive test results, including contact tracing, isolation and quarantine requirements

      Observation of successes and challenges presented by return to competition in other sports

      UK Athletics continues to work with university, SEC and state officials to determine capacity and attendance protocol for its five home games. Fans who have questions or need special accommodations are encouraged to contact the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 (option 4).

      Other notes related to the resumption of competition:

      The SEC announced in July that the sports of men’s and women’s cross country, soccer and volleyball would be postponed through at least August 31. Start dates and schedules for those sports, as well as sports in their non-traditional seasons during the fall, will be announced at a later date.

      The SEC announced in July that student-athletes in all sports who elect to not participate in intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 academic semester because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.

      The SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force continues to meet on policies and procedures for the safe return of student-athletes to competition, including the development of comprehensive testing and reporting policies, building on the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines.

      Each athletics program has been engaged in evaluating best practices for game operations to prepare a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, staff, officials and other individuals necessary to conduct games.
    1. Terry Blue's Avatar
      Terry Blue -
      We've got this!
    1. VirginiaCat's Avatar
      VirginiaCat -
      Ok, so we know we are playing the SEC East teams. Who will be our West Teams and maybe more importantly, where?

      I can see the SEC trying to screw us with one of our strongest teams.
    1. KSRBEvans's Avatar
      KSRBEvans -
      Quote Originally Posted by VirginiaCat View Post
      Ok, so we know we are playing the SEC East teams. Who will be our West Teams and maybe more importantly, where?

      I can see the SEC trying to screw us with one of our strongest teams.
      I hear what you're saying, but at the same time I feel like this is the year to say "Screw it--we'll take on all comers."
    1. Catfan73's Avatar
      Catfan73 -
      I’m ready!

      I saw an article saying Florida will get screwed the worst if they merely add the next two West teams on upcoming schedules. They would drop FSU and add Alabama and A&M. How is that any worse than dropping UL and adding Alabama and LSU?

      I’m actually hoping we get both those teams. This is going to be UK’s best team in decades.
    1. Terry Blue's Avatar
      Terry Blue -
      Not decided who we'll play in extra 2 games. Most probably LSU, Ole Miss or Texas A&M
    1. Catfan73's Avatar
      Catfan73 -
      Whatever they decide to do, I’m sure Alabama will come out smelling like a rose.

      One simple way they could pick the two extra teams would be to just flip the home team on the last two non-permanent teams each team has played. In that scenario, UK would get aTm at home and play at Arkansas. Too simple for them to actually do it, although it would only give Saban games at Missouri and S. Carolina at home.
    1. Terry Blue's Avatar
      Terry Blue -
      Supposed to be trying to equalize strength of schedule
    1. Catfan73's Avatar
      Catfan73 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Terry Blue View Post
      Supposed to be trying to equalize strength of schedule
      Translation: we prefer to be able to play favorites instead of doing something consistent and equitable across the board.

      I don’t understand why everyone assumed we wouldn’t be playing recent opponents again to begin with. If you just assign everyone the next two cross division teams on upcoming schedules you would run into the same problem the next two seasons in playing the same teams in succeeding years unless you bump everything forward.