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The Southeastern Conference is not playing around anymore. On Thursday, ESPN began circulating reports that portions of conference revenue would be withheld from teams that do not follow proper COVID-19 protocols.
The information being reported by ESPN came from a memo sent out to teams by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. Included in the memo is a statement saying that schools that do not follow protocols correctly will have their revenue distribution cut by $100,000.
On Friday, Sankey confirmed these reports during a segment on ESPN radio. He also mentioned that the penalties won’t be announced the first time they occur, but added that schools have the right to make that information public if they so choose.
Any fines following the initial $100,000 will be announced. There is also the possibility of suspensions if teams still refuse to comply. But how will they go about enforcing these rules? Sankey has an answer for that as well:
“We started on Monday using broadcast game footage evaluating every time a head coach is on camera,” Sankey said during the interview with ESPN radio. “Is a mask up, yes or no? If you don’t have that mask in place a super majority of the time … that puts you in jeopardy of a fine.”
It’s not a surprise that the league is cracking down on COVID-19 protocols. Two SEC games have now been postponed due to outbreaks, including one of the top games of the week in Florida-LSU. Alabama’s legendary head coach Nick Saban has also tested positive and might miss the upcoming game against Georgia on Saturday.
It will be interesting to see which teams–if any–continue to have issues. It will also be interesting to see how coaches respond to the rules.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.