2020 proved to be one of, if not the most, abnormal year in the history of collegiate sports. But, 2021 has the potential to bring back some normalcy. This offseason has been quite interesting. COVID-19 protocols are adapting, transfer and NIL rules have changed. Oh, and media days are back. With things looking to be returning to normal, we look to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey for some insight into this upcoming football season.
COVID Protocols in 2021
As Sankey took the podium Monday, many were interested in the COVID-19 protocols he and the SEC would set forth for its teams. With vaccinations readily available in most towns, universities have been suggesting players become vaccinated. Commissioner Sankey has done what he can to promote vaccinations himself.
Monday Sankey says, “Vaccines are an important and incredible product of science… we need to do our part to support a healthy society.” Sankey also mentioned how the SEC hopes to not reschedule games this year due to COVID-19. He says teams will have to forfeit as opposed to rescheduling their games. According to Sankey, six out of the 14 SEC football teams have 80 percent or more of their players vaccinated.
Open the Portal
With a lot of focus on college football this offseason, COVID protocols were not the only source of news. Transfer rules have changed in the SEC and now allows for players to transfer within conferences and avoid having to sit out for a year. These transfer rules completely shake up the landscape of the transfer portal. Sankey stated that over 1600 FBS scholarship athletes entered the new transfer portal. But while he mentioned the understanding of impacts of new decisions being made, he wants to help maintain order in the transfer portals.
Sankey says the goal of the new environment is to allow for more flexible and legitimate transfers. The SEC Commissioner made it known that he does not want any tampering. He stressed that he did not want college rosters to turn into “personal recruiting grounds”.
I want to be clear that while change is needed, not all about college sports is broken. We need a reminder about the many positive things that don’t receive full or accurate attention.
— Greg Sankey (@GregSankey) July 19, 2021
Figuring Out NIL
But an even bigger revelation came about this summer. The introduction of the first NIL legislation. NIL stands for “Name, Image, and Likeness”. And with this legislation, players are able to profit off of their NIL. For example, athletes of all college sports can now create endorsement deals for themselves. With the introduction of NIL, very few regulations followed. Universities, athletes, and companies alike were and still are quite unsure about how to go about this monumental change in college sports.
When asked about NIL regulations at Day 1 of SEC Media Days, Sankey called for federal assistance. Sankey said, “there is no federal legislation”. He even went on to say he’s still learning about all the rules and regulations of NIL in college sports. Sankey also mentions a lack of oversight in the realm of state legislation. Schools, players, coaches, and fans alike are all learning how NIL works as legislation continues to be introduced. Although, there is more confusion regarding NIL right now than ever before.
As SEC Media Days continue until July 22, fans can look for a lot of insight to be given into the upcoming SEC football season.