As the number of positive coronavirus cases increases across the country, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey says the league has reduced the number of student-athletes with COVID-19 on SEC campuses to almost zero.
In a Tuesday morning interview on Outkick the Coverage, Sankey did not reveal specific numbers from across the league, but was happy to share some good news on the effectiveness of the league’s protocols.
“It’s important for people to understand the numbers. We’ve brought people back and had positive tests among our student-athletes. They had care. They had oversight. They had support. Then we had to have young people go through the learning experience that college today and moving forward this fall does not appear like college when you were at George Washington, right? The gatherings and the way you interact have an impact.”
Sankey continued, “Last week our numbers were way down, in the low single-digits to zero. One of my presidents said this week, ‘Hey, I’m comfortable that we can support and oversee and keep people healthy.’ Part of what’s had to happen is the education of how you conduct yourself on your own time.”
Student-athletes at Tennessee apparently still need to learn how to conduct themselves on their own time. Volquest reports that zero players tested positive for COVID-19 when they initially returned to campus in June. Student-athletes were tested again following the Fourth of July holiday and multiple Vols produced positive coronavirus tests. Unlike professional leagues, if college athletics can return it must happen outside of a “bubble.” College kids must be trusted to follow social distancing guidelines during their free time.
“Everyone’s had to adjust,” said Sankey. “You’re back home on campus and you have to think in a different way. We’ve all had that. Even at our AD meeting we realized for the first time in a meeting room we’re going to have to function a bit differently than we would have six months ago.”
Two days after he met in-person with all 12 SEC athletic directors, Sankey reiterated that the league wants to take as much time as possible before reaching a conclusion on how to proceed. Tonight upwards of 30,000 NASCAR fans will attend a race at Bristol. Sankey said he’ll be following the results from that event and closely monitoring how Major League Baseball and NFL training camps operate in the coming weeks.
“I think we need to be patient with our decision-making and we will.”
You can hear the entire interview with Sankey beginning around the 55-minute mark of today’s podcast.