Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey touched on sports gambling, player mental health, officiating and this year’s historic milestone for college football as he kicked off SEC Football Media Days in Hoover.
The commissioner went over those and other topics ranging from looks back to last year and to issues that will be relevant for the coming year. One of the primary issues he brought up for the coming year is sports gambling.
“The SEC presidents and chancellors have expressed strong support for NCAA national office efforts to seek federal legislation that will regulate sports gambling,” Sankey said. “Ideally, there would be uniform practices governing gambling on college sports, particularly eliminating in-game betting and proposition bets on college sports.”
The commissioner went on to talk about the effects that unregulated sports gambling can have on student-athletes and what the conference plans to do to support them.
“We’re seeing trends in the mental health area that should cause us all to pause before these ideas around specific event betting within college sports are allowed to take place. And I’m talking about, for example, whether a field goal is made or missed, whether a three-point try is successful. Is a pitched ball a strike or a ball?” Sankey said. “In January, five autonomy conferences adopted new minimum requirements for a provision of mental health counseling for student-athletes. I’m pleased to say for the Southeastern Conference, we meet or exceed those requirements.”
Sankey also discussed new officiating procedures, particularly how the league will address the public regarding calls and the addition of a sideline monitor used for looking over replay footage. “One of the benefits, in addition to the extra voice in the process, will be the ability to better explain replay decisions from the official to our head coaches on the field.” Other measures include more consistent training and overviews with officials and the creation of new communication channels to inform the public.
Sankey also discussed events celebrating 150 years of college football that take place all season with ESPN, including the documentary series “Saturdays in the South” and other activities that SEC schools will participate in.
SEC players will display commemorative patches on their uniforms. The league will also celebrate 150 of the finest moments of SEC football.
These will not be selected by the commissioner, Sankey said. “So, if someone gets angry about whether or not a moment is part of their 150th best, it won’t be me.”
The “Saturday’s in the South” documentary series will broadcast on Tuesdays for 90 minutes beginning in August in eight parts. “You will hear stories of greased railroad tracks, an era before the SEC chant was ever heard, and weave tales through the decades of the modern area of success experienced now by the Southeastern Conference,” Sankey said.
A preview of the series is being shown to select media groups Tuesday, July 16 at Birmingham’s historic Lyric Theatre.
To visit the new SEC Officiating Website: www.secsports.com/officiating.