SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Saturday his concern for the football season is "high to very high" and acknowledged, "We are running out of time to correct and get things right."
During an interview on Marty & McGee on ESPN Radio, Sankey was asked about looming decisions the SEC must make about the upcoming season, with coronavirus cases across the South rising, and about announcements the Big Ten and Pac-12 have made regarding the move to conference-only schedules.
"We put a medical advisory group together in early April with the question, 'What do we have to do to get back to activity?' and they've been a big part of the conversation," Sankey said. "But the direct reality is not good and the notion that we've politicized medical guidance of distancing, and breathing masks, and hand sanitization, ventilation of being outside, being careful where you are in buildings. There's some very clear advice about -- you can't mitigate and eliminate every risk, but how do you minimize the risk? ... We are running out of time to correct and get things right, and as a society we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be."
Sankey reiterated that the SEC's deadline to make a decision remains late July, and he said the decisions the Big Ten and Pac-12 have already made do not put pressure on him or the SEC to follow suit. He recalled a conversation he had with a biostatistician, who told him he should take all the time he needs before making a decision because every day will provide more information.
"That literally is playing out in front of us every day," Sankey said. "That's why I don't feel any pressure because of somebody else's decisions. We're trying to make the right decisions for us, for the Southeastern Conference. It does have an impact because I've said publicly we're all linked nationally, so when other people make decisions, yup, there's an impact, but also we're going to look at our situation and make a decision that's appropriate for the Southeastern Conference and most importantly for the health of our student-athletes."
The Big 12 and ACC have also announced they will wait until later in July before making any decisions about the fall season or possible scheduling arrangements.
"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," Sankey said. "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."