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The Tennessee Vols got big news Wednesday night when the SEC cleared the way for offensive lineman Cade Mays to play this weekend against Missouri after making an intra-conference transfer exception for Mays and others who were waiting to learn if they could play this season. Kentucky quarterback Joey Gatewood, who transferred from Auburn, was one of those who got the good news. “I appreciate the @SEC and @NCAA along with @UKAthletics to be cleared for immediate eligibility this year,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mays showed his appreciation for those who stepped up to help him.
“Today is a great day for all of college athletics,” Mays wrote. “First off I would like to thank Coach Pruitt, Coach Fulmer, Chancellor Plowman, and my attorney Greg Issacs. All of these individuals have spent ample amounts of time fighting for my eligibility to make this season a reality for me. Thank you to my teammates without your guys support this wouldn’t be possible. I love each and everyone of y’all and am thankful to be part of the family. Thank you to my friends and Vol Nation for being relentless in our pursuit for my eligibility! You guys made your voice heard and sent a powerful message for all to hear. God is good! Go Vols!!”
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the COVID era played a big role in his decision.
“In consideration of current circumstances resulting from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including eligibility relief provided to student-athletes in August by the NCAA, and in anticipation of changes to NCAA transfer legislation, the Southeastern Conference today approved a number of transfer waiver requests that originated from member institutions seeking exceptions to the long-standing Conference bylaw that requires intraconference transfers serve a year in residence before being eligible to compete,” Sankey said in a press release.
“It must be stated unequivocally that these approvals are solely a reflection of the unique circumstances present and should not be interpreted as endorsement of the rationale set forth by individuals seeking these waivers.
“These are unprecedented times in which decisions about eligibility and competitive opportunities demand consideration of the current challenges facing our student-athletes and schools as a result of COVID-19. In a non-COVID environment there may have been a different outcome for some of the waiver requests determined today.Our member institutions have been clear in the past that they oppose immediate eligibility for intraconference transfers. Given the increased number of waiver requests this year, and a changing national landscape related to student-athlete transfer issues, it is evident that the current transfer bylaw must undergo a thorough review by Conference membership in the most timely manner possible and prior to the 2021-22 academic year.”
Tennessee is the big winner in this intra-conference transfer sweepstakes. A former 5-star offensive lineman who originally committed to the Vols in an early signing period, Mays then officially signed with Georgia out of high school.
Gatewood will have three years of eligibility at Kentucky, possibly a fourth with the COVID rule that won’t count 2020 against the player. Gatewood will now find himself in a quarterback battle with Terry Wilson and Beau Allen.