SEC commissioner: COVID-19 schedule changes not planned in ’21

The Southeastern Conference isn’t planning to postpone football games this fall due to COVID-19.

Speaking Monday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., commissioner Greg Sankey said the widespread COVID-19 vaccines have made it possible to play safely this fall. If a team faces a coronavirus outbreak, the game will not be rescheduled, he said.

So far, six of the 14 football teams in the conference have reached 80 percent vaccination, Sankey said, declining to specify the teams.

Last season, SEC teams played a limited number of games, and rosters had to meet a minimum threshold number for the games to go on. He said Monday that he has asked members schools to agree to remove the roster minimums and return to business as usual, pre-pandemic.

“That means your team needs to be healthy to compete,” Sankey said. “If not, that game won’t be rescheduled. And thus, to dispose of the game, the forfeit word comes up at this point.”

The SEC schedule last season was in a constant state of flux to accommodate moving games, and the conference added weeks at the end of the schedule for potential makeup games.

“We’ve not built in the kind of time we did last year, particularly at the end of the season, to accommodate disruption,” Sankey said. “And unless we’re going to do that, our teams are going to have to be fully prepared to play their season as scheduled, which is why embedded in my remarks is the vaccination motivation.”

The first SEC team scheduled to compete in the 2021 is Tennessee, which will host Bowling Green on Sept. 2 in the debut of new head coach Josh Heupel.

Missouri will visit Kentucky in the first conference game on Sept. 11.