Report: Multiple SEC Schools to Lose Revenue over COVID-19 Protocol Violations

Report: Multiple SEC Schools to Lose Revenue over COVID-19 Protocol Violations

FILE - In this March 11, 2020, file photo, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey announces that fans will not be allowed in the arena to watch NCAA college basketball games in the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn. After the Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, to discuss mounting concern about whether a college football season can be played in a pandemic, players took to social media to urge leaders to let them play. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

As the SEC battles outbreaks of COVID-19, Commissioner Greg Sankey warned multiple schools that revenue will be deducted as a punishment for not following safety protocols, according to ESPN’s Alex Scarborough.

“Do not relax,” Sankey wrote in underlined and bold text, per Scarborough. “And do not let those around you relax because of a few weeks of success.” 

Suspensions will also be an option for teams that do not comply with protocols.

The SEC has struggled with the virus heading into the weekend, as the Vanderbilt-Missouri and LSU-Florida games have been postponed after outbreaks within the Vanderbilt and Florida programs. In addition, Alabama head coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19 and are self-isolating at home. 

Saban, 68, said Wednesday that he felt fine and monitored his team’s Wednesday practice over Zoom (h/t ESPN’s Mark Schlabach). The Alabama program is testing for COVID-19 on Thursday, and players have undergone daily testing since September. He joins five other FBS head coaches who have announced positive tests: Kevin Sumlin (Arizona), Mike Norvell (Florida State), Les Miles (Kansas), Jason Candle (Toledo) and Blake Anderson (Arkansas State). 

Both the Vanderbilt-Missouri and LSU-Florida matchups have been postponed to Dec. 12. After playing its third game with just 56 players, Vanderbilt announced that “a lack of available scholarship student-athletes” forced the game to be moved. SEC guidelines dictate that at least 53 scholarship athletes must be available on game day. 

According to ESPN, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said Wednesday that there were 21 positive cases of COVID-19 on the Gators roster, including 18 scholarship athletes and three walk-ons. In addition, players are also in quarantine while undergoing contact tracing, and fewer than 50 Florida players were ready to go for Saturday as a result.

“It can sneak up on you in a hurry,” Stricklin said. “The key thing is you’ve got to have the ability to push the brake when things start to occur like what we’re seeing right now. You’ve got to be willing to hit pause occasionally. The SEC schedule was set up with an event like this in mind.”

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