SEC commissioner Greg Sankey hopes there will be unity among the FBS conferences when it comes time to resume college football activities, but he cautioned that it’s not a necessity that everyone move forward as one.
Appearing on Jacksonville radio station 1010 XL on Thursday morning, Sankey said that unlike pro leagues, “There is room for different conferences to make different decisions.”
“If there’s a couple of programs that aren’t able, does that stop everyone? I’m not sure it does,” he said. “But the ability for us to stay connected will remain important.”
Many states in the SEC’s footprint are reopening for business during the coronavirus pandemic, including the partial openings of Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. In Missouri, Texas, Florida and Alabama, stay-at-home orders are expected to end soon.
Elsewhere within the conference, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky are shut down.
Sankey didn’t say whether all 11 states would have to be cleared to return for the SEC to resume athletic activity.
“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,” he said. “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 — or 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, like I said, connected nationally so that we can celebrate the return of college sports.”
Last week, Sankey told ESPN’s Heather Dinich, “I don’t have to make that decision right now,” when asked whether the SEC would be willing to play if other conferences cannot.
“The virus is going to determine what happens,” he told ESPN.