NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Southeastern Conference will limit this year's football season to only conference games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conference officials adopted a plan Thursday to play a 10-game, conference-only schedule this fall.
The approved kickoff date is Sept. 26 and the SEC Title game was set for Dec. 19, but other schedule details are still unclear for now.
"This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in a release. "This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities."
The schedule will include one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on December 12 for all schools.
"University of Tennessee Athletic Director Philip Fulmer thanked the Vol Nation for bearing with them as they work through the changes. He released the following statement after the announcement:
A tremendous amount of thought and discussion went into making what we believe is a responsible decision on scheduling format, and it's exciting to be making progress toward competition. Our student-athletes and coaches are working hard to prepare while prioritizing health and safety. There are still several logistical unknowns, but we appreciate Vol Nation being patient and sticking with us as we continue to work through these unique circumstances.
Our next important reference point is a decision on capacity at Neyland Stadium. We plan to coordinate with state and local officials on gameday attendance, understanding that potential limitations could change from week to week once the season begins. This underscores the importance of the public practicing healthy habits statewide.
We've been working through plans for several different capacity scenarios and ticket allocation strategies and aim to communicate specifics once details are finalized.
Conversations remain ongoing at the NCAA and conference level regarding fall plans for Olympic sports."
Vanderbilt Athletic Director Candice Lee said they will focus on making the season as safe as possible for their students. She released the statement below:
“This is a common-sense approach to starting a football season under incredibly challenging circumstances. The safety and well-being of our student-athletes remains our greatest priority. This model was informed by broad expertise and advice, including from the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, which includes representatives from each of our institutions. It’s exciting that our student-athletes have the opportunity to compete and win in the nation’s finest conference. Vanderbilt will stay focused on ensuring this football season is as safe as possible for our student-athletes, the coaches and staff who support them, and Commodore Nation. Now, more than ever, we must work together and I know we’re up to the task.” - Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director Candice Lee