Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
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Sankey not rushing a final final decision
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announces Wednesday, March 11, 2020, that fans will not be allowed in the arena to watch NCAA college basketball games in the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn., starting Thursday. The Southeastern Conference joined the rest of the Power Five leagues and announced that only family and essential personnel would attend its men's and women's tournament basketball games. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Greg Sankey, the SEC commissioner, said the league’s medical team has given a green light to play football.
Sankey, who also said a final final decision hasn’t been made, is playing it smart.
He and the SEC athletic directors, presidents and chancellors are still gathering data.
And they will be until a final final decision is ready to be announced.
It is not a concern that the Big Ten and Pac-12 have opted out of fall sports.
Until now, mostly the schools and conferences mostly those without television contracts have been the ones that have pulled the plug on this season.
The Mountain West had already said no to football this fall and if the University of Arkansas had any financial responsibility to Nevada for canceling the game, that was probably erased since the Wolf Pack won’t be having a season.
UMass also announced it will have no fall sports.
Apparently, the Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents decided there was not enough evidence that the coronavirus was slowing down or would in the next month.
When the SEC makes its final final decision, it will have nothing to do with anyone outside of the SEC.
The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 seem to be inclined to independence as well.
While the majority of the country would love to have college football this fall, including the media, the SEC is taking an optimistic, but cautious approach by waiting.
One thing that is absolute is that UA Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek will not vote yes if it is going to endanger the players.
Not just because one of those players is his son, either.
While it still seems a huge goal to try and play 10 games while the coronavirus is so prevalent, there is some safety in playing conference games only.
All of the SEC football teams travel by chartered planes that would be sanitized before, during and after games.
Testing is widespread and done often.
Having the athletes on campus appears to be safer than having them at home, hanging out with friends.
Currently, the Razorback football team has zero cases of the virus, which means everyone is doing a great job.
Alabama’s Nick Saban was quoted as saying that nationwide only 2% of the athletes on campuses have tested positive for the virus, and they were immediately quarantined.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 will feel a backlash if the other three play.
Not playing could set recruiting back five years in those conferences, and the SEC and ACC are already getting more than their fair share of the most talented football players in the country.
Plus the folks at Fox, which airs the Big Ten Network, probably are not happy campers today.
Not sure how much influence ESPN and the SEC Network have in this decision about whether to play, but there’s no doubt the sports broadcasting giant has a voice.
This comes at a time when in normal years reporting would be about how the offensive line is bigger and stronger and the quarterbacks are completing passes to receivers who appear bigger and faster.
Instead of learning about how the new defensive scheme may fit the personnel better, we are stuck reading and writing about a worldwide virus that has no rules or deadlines.
And which conferences and schools will or won’t play football.
The bet here is there will be a season, maybe not 10 games, but the final final decision is on hold.
We know presidents and chancellors in the SEC are meeting with each other and the ADs who are in contact with Sankey who is in regular contact with medical experts.
There is definitely no rush to make a final final decision because it is a decision that could impact college athletics for years to come.
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