The SEC president and chancellor on Thursday approved the schedule for a 10-match soccer match, only the conference for the fall which began September 26.
The full schedule will be announced at a later date. The revised schedule, which was changed due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, increased two sheets of the usual SEC conference conference consisting of eight league matches, which included six division enemies, one permanent cross-division enemy and one rotating cross-division enemy.
Florida’s athletic director Scott Stricklin confirmed the SEC would maintain the division schedule and the eight teams currently scheduled, and that the league still determined two additional teams. The source told ESPN that one proposal that was widely discussed was to add cross-division rotors to each school for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. For example, Alabama would add Florida and Vanderbilt, and Georgia would add Arkansas and the State of Mississippi. Another proposal under consideration, said the source, would be for the league to design a ranking system based on schedule strength and add two additional league matches based on that system. Every plan must be approved by the athletic director.
The SEC title game is scheduled for December 19, two weeks later than planned, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The schedule includes one open date for each school in the middle of the season, as well as an open date on December 12 for all teams.
The SEC made changes to allow “maximum flexibility in making the necessary scheduling adjustments while reacting to developments around the pandemic and continuing advice from medical experts,” the conference announcement said.
“The new plan for this soccer schedule is consistent with our university education goals to allow for a safe and orderly return to their student population campuses and to provide a healthy learning environment during the unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the security measures taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus community.”
The SEC is the fourth Power 5 conference this month to change its schedule to provide more flexibility during the pandemic, joining Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC. The Big Ten and Pac-12 had previously said they would also play only the conference schedule. Pac-12 is expected to announce details of its plans on Friday.
ACC announced on Wednesday that it would use an 11-game schedule, which included independent FBS Notre Dame, playing a full league schedule consisting of 10 conference games and one non-conference match – a model influenced by the SEC’s decision, which canceled regular season competition matches. traditionally between ACC and SEC: Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, Kentucky-Louisville and South Carolina-Clemson.
Sankey said it was “deeply regretted” that traditional competition will not occur in 2020, “but this is a unique thing, and hopefully a temporary situation that requires unconventional measures.”
ACC decided on the plus-one model as a way to accommodate four ACC / SEC competition matches. Syracuse athletics director John Wildhack, who made a video conference call before the SEC announced his decision, said it was important for the league to support the competition matches.
“If you can do things as a collective body and group that can benefit schools where it is important, I tend to try to be a good partner and support it,” he said. Asked whether the SEC was choosing the conference schedule to change the format of the ACC, Wildhack said, “In my opinion, no.”
Stricklin said the SEC’s discussion centered on the conference-only season before the ACC made an announcement on Wednesday. He also said he and other schools with rival ACC lobbied hard to keep one non-conference match on schedule, but because the league agreed to play 10 matches and push the starting date to September 26, there were not enough Saturdays to keep the non-game conference on schedule.
“If there was a way we could overcome it, but we would respect the decision we made as a league,” Stricklin said.
The reason officials decided to push for September 26 was based on information from medical experts who advised them “August to Labor Day has the opportunity to be rude in our region from a caseload perspective, especially reuniting schools and colleges. Trying to start the football season with that as a background without the benefit of watching the NFL start becoming a problem. “
Texas A&M athletics director Ross Bjork said the SEC’s discussion around competitive games “was a difficult part because the game was very meaningful for all four SEC programs.”
“They clearly have to stand up for it, and believe in it,” he said, “and it only comes down to the short window of the season, and how you can enter as many matches as possible, knowing that you need to start later, and that only comes to a calendar issue where we basically play 10 games over a 12-week period, and there’s no room to give everyone the best chance to play as many games as possible. “Those programs, they stand on the ground and it’s a great conversation. That’s just not suitable. “
The SEC decision also resulted in the cancellation of several other nonconference arranged marriages, including LSU-Texas and Tennessee-Oklahoma.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a statement that the conference option alone was the “best option” to keep players and staff safe while maintaining “integrity this season.”
“The safety of our team will be our top priority throughout the season, but we are also happy that our players will have the opportunity to compete and play this season,” Saban said. “I want to thank the leaders of our administration, our medical staff, the SEC and all the medical experts who guided us through this process.”
The SEC confirmed in its release that every student-athlete in all sports who chose not to participate this season due to health or safety issues related to COVID-19 will continue to get their scholarships respected and remain in good standing with their team.
Big 12 is the only Power 5 conference that has yet to determine its fall schedule, but its president will meet on Monday and will consider four or five models, according to commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
On Monday, Louisiana-Monroe athletic director Scott McDonald told ESPN that all 10 schools in the Sun Belt had entered the week in hopes of playing a full 12 game schedule, but that it was “certainly watching” the SEC.
With the SEC’s decision to go to the conference schedule alone, Louisiana-Monroe lost matches against Arkansas and Georgia – a total loss of $ 3.2 million in guaranteed income from an operating budget of $ 15.5 million.
“This can indeed be restored, but it is important,” McDonald said. “This is important. Like in your house if you experience about a 20% reduction in income, you have to make some decisions. Is this important? Yes, but we will definitely continue if we have to make that adjustment.”
Mark Schlabach, Chris Low, and Andrea Adelson from ESPN contributed to this report.