Greg Sankey was instrumental in getting back college sports in 2020. The SEC commissioner didn’t cower to the fear porn that controlled other conferences, and he certainly didn’t allow public pressure to dictate the conference’s decision-making.
He trusted the medical professionals who were providing him and other conference officials with information. The result? We made it through an entire SEC football season, and now we’re watching the conference basketball tournament for the first time in two years. SEC fans owe Sankey a debt of gratitude.
On Friday, Sankey joined OutKick founder Clay Travis on OutKick the Coverage, and the nuggets he provided in that interview were fantastic.
First of all, he reiterated that the conference took a “wait and see” approach. It wasn’t reactive, and it wasn’t a “we’re playing no matter what” type of situation.
“We actually had written press releases from everything from ‘we’re playing,’ to ‘we’re stopping’ and everything in between,” Sankey shared. “So, it’s not as if we didn’t stop and think we might not be able to play.”
People have assumed the SEC approach was playing, come hell or high water. That’s not the case. Sankey and other officials allowed facts and informed opinion dictate their decision-making, not public pressures.
Their system wasn’t perfect however. Before we knew a lot about the virus, the 2020 SEC Tournament — and subsequently, the NCAA Tournament — were both canceled. Clay asked Sankey what the moment was like when they had to pull the plug as teams were warming up on the court.
“It was stunning,” Sankey replied. “This is a conference that had a facility, the Georgia Dome, hit by a tornado, and we still figured out a way to play. So really, front and center in my mind is the bias to find a way, but the reality was that wasn’t possible.”
As unfortunate as that was, the conference soon found a way to play both football and basketball. Sankey took Clay through some of that behind-the-scenes process, and it’s fascinating stuff. Everything from talking to presidents and chancellors to figuring out the financial side of regular testing for athletes.
Folks, this is probably going to be a movie one day. If it’s not, it absolutely should be. And you’re getting in on the ground floor.
That entire interview — and more — can be heard in Hour 3 of Friday’s OutKick the Coverage.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.