SEC Announces Athletes Can Opt Out of Fall Seasons and Retain Scholarships

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2020

SEC sign held up by a player after the Southeastern Conference Championship NCAA college football game against the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 in Atlanta. (Ric Tapia via AP)
Ric Tapia/Associated Press

The SEC announced Friday that student-athletes can opt out of 2020 fall sports without risk of losing their scholarships or standing within their programs.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said:

"SEC universities are committed to full support of its student-athletes, whether or not a student-athlete decides to participate in sports during these uncertain times. SEC student-athletes have frequently expressed their desire to compete, but it is important for student-athletes and their families to know the financial support committed to them by their institutions will not be at risk because of health concerns presented by the current pandemic."

The conference previously confirmed the start of fall sports seasons would be delayed at least through Aug. 31.

During an appearance on ESPN Radio's Marty & McGee last week, Sankey said his concern about whether it'd be possible to play the college football season is "high to very high." He added a final decision would probably come in late July:

"What I've tried to do is both keep a focus on what's ahead but provide reality, which has been I'm going to focus on preparing to play the season as scheduled but acknowledge the circumstances around coronavirus are going to guide us in that decision-making. And the reality right now is the trends in our region, in our nation, are not in the positive direction for being able to have normal experiences."

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already moved to conference-only schedules for the football season.

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Decisions are being made amid a recent surge of COVID-19 cases nationwide, including a record-setting number reported Thursday.

The SEC features several top national title contenders, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU, which means the conference's decision could have a major impact on the season.