SEC Schedule Decision! But For Basketball, Not Football

DESTIN, Florida – The Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings actually ended with a decision regarding future scheduling Friday.

That was not, however, regarding football, which will continue to take some time over the next year or more before Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC as expected in 2025.

SEC Spring Meetings Had Interesting Discussion, But No Hard Decisions On Major Issues Yet

The league ruled that each of the 16 men’s basketball teams in the 2025-26 season will play two permanent opponents home and away with a third rotating home and away and the other 12 teams in single contests home or away for a total of 18 SEC games. There are three permanent opponents in the current 18-game schedule involving 14 teams.

The SEC men’s basketball tournament will remain under the same format beginning in 2026, but with two additional games with 16 teams instead of 14. All teams will be invited as usual and will play single elimination with the top four seeds receiving byes through the first two rounds.

The athletic directors, presidents and chancellors and other sports administrators who met and voted Friday and the men’s basketball coaches who voted earlier in the week considered a 20-game men’s basketball schedule.

“We dug into 20, but 18 allows pretty effective rotation, a lot of comfort with that,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Friday. “We have the ability to have non-conference games scheduling, which we still believe is valuable.”

The SEC women’s regular season beginning in 2025-26 will be different than the men and feature each team playing only one permanent opponent home and away plus the 14 remaining single games for a total of 16 conference games. The women’s tournament will have the same format as the men as it has had with two additional games.

Other regular season and tournament formats were decided upon for soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and softball. The SEC Baseball Tournament will remain in Hoover, Alabama, for at least the next two years.

Football scheduling will take more time as the coaches’ straw polls taken over the past few days were split too evenly between the present eight-game schedule and the proposed nine-game schedule for Sankey’s liking.

“There’s no easy button to push,” Sankey said. “We’ve narrowed it (to eight- or nine-game schedules) and bounced back with some questions about other models. And that could happen again. But the focus was eight or nine games and single-division structure.”

Decisions on how to tweak or deal better with Name, Image & Likeness rules or the lack of the correct rules and oversight of NIL and the myriad of problems in and around the NCAA Transfer Portal will also take considerably more time. Changes to either rule could result in lawsuits, and the SEC is considering seeking help from Congress for some federal exemption against certain lawsuits.

“One of the mantras of the week was that it’s never going to be the way that it was, but it doesn’t have to be the way that it is,” Sankey said. “As you unpack the impact of state laws and the limit on some decision making on a conference level, there are state law limitations. The reality of Congress in mid-term elections and all that’s on their plate and still our need for learning pushed decisions back. When you think through litigation, that’s more information, and you start to realize the complexities.”

And the time impactful changes to NIL and the transfer portal will take.

“They are complicated issues,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said as he prepared to check out and return home. “It’s going to take more than one sit-down meeting to navigate everything. But good discussions.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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