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Coronavirus still a major topic of discussion at SEC media days

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days Monday, July 19, 2021, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days Monday, July 19, 2021, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOOVER, Ala. – SEC media days were virtual last year because of the pandemic, but they returned on Monday with progress against COVID-19 still a major topic of discussion.

Commissioner Greg Sankey said on opening day of the SEC’s annual media event that six of the 14 SEC football teams in the conference have reached the 80% COVID-19 vaccination threshold.

Sankey didn’t say specifically what schools have reached the threshold, but the hope is to have more schools join that number before the season starts.

Florida coach Dan Mullen was glad to return to some type of normalcy after a year off coronavirus issues.

“It is great to be up here, it is really exciting to see everyone here live, in-person again and not just look at everybody just through a computer screen,” Mullen said.

Mullen said what everyone in Hoover, Ala. for SEC media days was thinking. After holding SEC media days virtually, a year ago because of COVID-19, the coronavirus is still a large topic of discussion.

Last season, multiple games had to be rescheduled because of the pandemic, but Sankey said that the conference will not reschedule games this fall.

“You hope not to have disruption, but hope is not a plan is the great cliche’. We still have roster minimums that exist, just like last year. What I’ve identified for consideration among our membership is we remove those roster minimums and you’re expected to play as scheduled,” Sankey said.

“That means your team needs to be healthy to compete, and if not, that game won’t be rescheduled. And thus, to dispose of the game, the forfeit word comes up at this point. That’s not a policy, and what you see are the bookends now for decision-making.”

Sankey also said that a little less than half of the SEC teams have vaccinated 80% of their players. The commissioner did not specify what teams have reached that level. Mullen declined to identify the percentage of Gators players that have been vaccinated.

“I’m not going to get into the specific numbers right now, but I think we’re doing very well with that, with those numbers. I think when you look at COVID and what we dealt with last year, I think our medical staff, Paul Silvestri, our training staff, has done a phenomenal job of educating our players.”


About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.