SEC pledges cash to help storm victims

The Southeastern Conference will donate $500,000 to the University of Alabama to support its efforts in assisting students, faculty and staff who were affected by the tornadoes of April 27.

"Our hearts go out to all the victims of these recent tornadoes but especially to our academic colleagues and their students," Dr. Bernie Machen, president of the University of Florida, said in a statement. "While we compete fiercely in athletics we also support each other fiercely in times of need. The efforts of the conference and our institutions will help alleviate the effects of this devastating catastrophe."

The SEC's contribution will supplement other individual institutional contributions and fundraising efforts.

"The tornadoes that went through Tuscaloosa have severely impacted the lives of students, faculty and staff of the University of Alabama and will continue to do so for months to come," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "We express our sympathies and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm and we are pleased to be able to assist in the recovery efforts."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has designated 41 counties in the state of Alabama for disaster relief to households and businesses affected by deadly tornadoes that swept through the state last week, The Associated Press reported.

Two days after the storms, an Auburn contingent of approximately 70 -- including athletic director Jay Jacobs, football coach Gene Chizik and 15 football players -- bused to the Birmingham, Ala., area to help with relief efforts.

The SEC is encouraging fans to donate to the University of Alabama's "UA Acts of Kindness Fund," which has been established to support an emergency-assistance program for university faculty, staff and students, by going to the school's website.

"The University of Alabama is extremely grateful to the Southeastern Conference for this donation," university president Dr. Robert E. Witt said. "During the past week, it has been heartwarming to see the efforts of so many people support the victims of the tornados. The university will continue to move forward as a family."

Edward Aschoff covers the SEC for ESPN.com.