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Could coronavirus impact college football season? SEC commissioner really not sure

Josh Ali made the game-winning catch in the Belk Bowl and will be UK’s top returning receiver if there is a 2020 season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

We’ve already lost the NCAA basketball tournaments and NCAA spring sports championship. NBA play has been suspended. The Masters, PGA Championship and Kentucky Derby have all been postponed. Same with the start of Major League Baseball.

This is all due to the coronavirus outbreak that continues to escalate daily it seems.

But is there a really a chance that the college football season — which starts in late August — could be impacted in the same way?

“Our focus is on preparing for the 2021 academic year, the fall seasons, as currently scheduled, so there’s a period on the end of that sentence,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Wednesday during a teleconference with media members.

“I think about everything going forward because we’re being guided by public health information in decision making, but my hope is we can return to our normal organized activities, our normal experiences and be part of that celebration around soccer or volleyball, cross-country, football in the fall. But, we’ll have to see.”

So is the SEC commissioner optimistic there will be a complete college football season?

“I’m a half-full perspective person, so I have optimism. We have taken measures as have our colleague conferences, at this time, I think that if I read those health leaders, we’re going to have a period of time to see what happens with the growth of these cases and we’ll make decisions down the road,” Sankey said.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a full college season but I suspect a very honest answer.

“My responsibility is to continue to support the public health decision making, but also to be prepared to do our work as assigned to us, and we have – we’ve categorized things,” Sankey said.

“One is to be focused, one, on the work we have. The second is to make sure we’re prepared for next year as planned. And the third is to engage in big picture thinking which is contingency planning, but also, strategic planning.

“And as we adjust to the fact that no one’s complaining to me about umpires right now and that opens up a little bit of space, we want to use that time wisely. I did – we had a baseball coach’s conference call. When I joined, I said I’d much rather be talking to some of you about baseball umpiring problems over the weekend than what we’re talking about now, but as we adjust to this new normal, we’re going to be thinking about a lot of things.”

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