SEC athletes don’t have to worry about their scholarship disappearing if they choose not to play during the 2020 fall semester.
The conference said Friday that any athlete who opts out of participating in sports in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic will still have his or her scholarship.
"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 commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. "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 also left open the possibility of extending the measure for the 2021 spring semester based on the pandemic.
It’s an absolute no-brainer move for schools to guarantee scholarships for students who are worried about their health or the health of their family members. But this is also a college sports world where multi-year guaranteed scholarships were very uncommon just a decade ago. Sometimes the sensible moves are also signs of progress.
The SEC’s decision comes after the Big Ten and Pac-12 made the same overture a week ago when they announced that their football programs would be playing conference-only schedules in 2020. The SEC hasn’t yet said anything about the upcoming football season. Sankey has said that a decision on how the SEC plans to proceed will come at the end of July, though he noted Monday that trends weren’t great for an on-time and on-schedule football season.
“It is clear that current circumstances related to COVID-19 must improve, and we will continue to closely monitor developments around the virus on a daily basis,” Sankey said. “In the coming weeks, we will continue to meet regularly with campus leaders via videoconferences and gather relevant information while guided by medical advisers. We believe that late July will provide the best clarity for making the important decisions ahead of us.”
Earlier Friday, the Colonial Athletic Association became the fourth FCS conference to say that football wouldn’t be played in the fall. The MEAC, Patriot League and Ivy League had previously made those decisions.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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