SEC releases football schedules, COVID-19 attendance guidelines

SEC releases football schedules, COVID-19 attendance guidelines
Gearing up for an all-SEC schedule are, clockwise from upper left, Alabama coach Nick Saban, Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses and Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. (contributed)

The 2020 football schedules are set for Alabama, Auburn and all other SEC teams, along with COVID-19 attendance guidelines as the conference seeks to have a season in the face of an unending pandemic.

The Southeastern Conference released the schedules Monday evening. The season begins Sept. 26 and ends Dec. 5 with each team getting an open date. The SEC Championship Game will be Dec. 19 in Atlanta.

The Alabama Crimson Tide schedule:

Alabama Crimson Tide practice in Tuscaloosa. (Kent Gidley/UA Athletics)
  • Sept. 26 at Missouri
  • Oct. 3 Texas A&M
  • Oct. 10 at Ole Miss
  • Oct. 17  Georgia
  • Oct. 24 at Tennessee
  • Oct. 31 Mississippi State
  • Nov. 7 Open
  • Nov. 14 at LSU
  • Nov. 21 Kentucky
  • Nov. 28 Auburn
  • Dec. 5 at Arkansas

“I think the fact that we’re playing 10 SEC games – I mean, I’ve been a guy that’s been wanting to play 10 SEC games for a long time,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “So this year we get to do that. I think it’s good for our players who get the opportunity to create value against 10 really quality opponents in our league. I think it’s going to be very challenging. Every week you’re going to have a very, very good opponent.”

The Auburn Tigers schedule:

Seth Williams at Auburn football’s first practice in helmets. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)
  • Sept. 26 Kentucky
  • Oct. 3 at Georgia
  • Oct. 10 Arkansas
  • Oct. 17 at South Carolina
  • Oct. 24 at Ole Miss
  • Oct. 31 LSU
  • Nov. 7 Open
  • Nov. 14 at Mississippi State
  • Nov. 21 Tennessee
  • Nov. 28 at Alabama
  • Dec. 5 Texas A&M

“There are 10 SEC games, I do know that,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Monday before the full schedules were revealed. “Me personally, I think that gives us an advantage. That’s what I told our team. You look at the schedule that we’ve played since we’ve been here in 2013, I would put it up against anyone. The thing I can tell you is adding two extra games won’t be a shock to our system. I think we’ve had the toughest schedule since 2013. So we’re looking at that as an advantage. Some teams that have not had this tough a schedule, I think it’s going to be a little bit more challenging for them.”

You can view and download the full SEC schedule here.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Alabama coach Nick Saban speak about new SEC-only schedules from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Tuesday, the SEC issued guidelines for fan safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These fan guidelines have been adopted by the 14 member schools of the Southeastern Conference as baseline recommendations for the campus management of fan health and safety,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.  “Although local and state guidelines will determine if and how many fans can attend games, these guidelines provide conference-wide expectations for protection of guests who are able to attend our games.”

Here are the SEC guidelines:

Attendance

Institutions shall determine the number of guests permitted to attend in accordance with applicable state and local guidelines, policies and/or regulations. In the absence of state and/or local guidelines, policies and/or regulations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on physical distancing should be applied.

Face coverings

  • Face coverings (over the nose and mouth) shall be required as a condition of all guest ingress, egress and movement throughout the stadium, as well as any time guests are unable to maintain the recommended physical distance from others who are not in their same household.
  • Stadium workers and athletics staff should wear face coverings at all times.

Food, beverage and merchandise

  • Barriers (e.g., plexiglass) shall be installed at all points-of-sale or otherwise all concessions staff shall wear a face shield plus a mask.
  • Queuing lines at points-of-sale shall permit physical distancing between guests.
  • “Grab and go” food/beverage options should be considered at points-of-sale locations.
  • Beverages shall be provided directly to guests. Machines designed to allow guests to fill or refill beverages must remain inoperable.
  • Condiments shall be offered only as single-serve condiments, and condiment carts shall be prohibited.
  • All portable points-of-sale locations shall be strategically placed to ensure physical distancing is permitted between guests who are in line or may be in close proximity to the selling location for other purposes.

Gate ingress/egress

  • Signs shall be installed at parking lots, pedestrian paths to the stadium, gates and/or other ingress/entry points that outline mandates for all guests to wear face coverings, maintain physical distancing and mandate guests do not enter the stadium if they display any COVID-19 symptoms as outlined by the CDC.
  • All tickets shall be digitally scanned.
  • The footprint at all gates and ingress/entry and egress/exit points shall permit physical distancing between guests.

Guest shuttles

Institutions that cooperate with and/or arrange for shuttles to transport guests to/from the stadium shall ensure the shuttle operator has sufficient protocols/procedures in place including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Maintaining physical distancing while guests are on the shuttle, entering/exiting the shuttle and while waiting in lines to board the shuttle.
  • Requiring face coverings as a condition for shuttle use for drivers and guests at all times while aboard the shuttle, entering/exiting and while waiting in line.
  • Planning to sufficiently and regularly disinfect the shuttle.

Plans for disinfection, symptomatic guests, communication/public relations and American with Disabilities Act

  • Institutions shall have a documented plan that outlines the procedures/protocol for appropriate disinfection of the stadium.
  • Institutions shall have a documented plan that outlines the procedures/protocol for working with guests who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Institutions shall launch a communication/public relations campaign for communicating all COVID-19 procedures/protocol to prospective guests.
  • Institutions shall ensure they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the development and implementation of all procedures/protocols.

Premium seating – suites and clubs

  • “Suite hopping” shall be prohibited.
  • Sufficient signs that promote and instruct suite holders to wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing shall be installed near ingress/entry points.
  • Furniture shall be arranged in clubs to promote physical distancing.
  • Each suite and club shall be supplied with sufficient hand washing and/or hand sanitizing stations.
  • Guests shall be permitted to access “field level” suites or clubs that are not within six feet of any team area. Additionally, institutions must ensure guests do not access a pathway to enter or exit a “field level” suite or club at the same time a student-athlete, coach, team staff member, game official or other game participant is using the same pathway.

Public areas inside stadium

  • Institutions shall ensure the setup and operational procedures in all areas accessed by guests permit physical distancing including, but not limited to, the following areas:
    • Guest seating
    • Concourses and gathering places
    • Dining areas (high top tables, extended countertops, etc.)
    • Concessions sales
    • Merchandise sales
    • Restrooms
    • Elevators
    • Escalators
  • Sufficient signs that promote and instruct guests to wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing shall be in place in areas accessed by guests.
  • Signs must specify the maximum number of guests who may be inside an elevator simultaneously at each elevator entry point (elevator operators shall wear face coverings).
  • The use of traditional water fountains or other apparatuses providing drinking water shall be prohibited and all must be clearly marked or covered to indicate use is prohibited. This does not apply to apparatuses that use touchless technology.
  • Sufficient hand washing and/or hand sanitizing stations should be present throughout the stadium.

Restrooms

  • Entry and exit points shall be clearly designated, and sufficient signs shall be in place to assist with traffic flow and promote physical distancing.
  • Institutions shall implement measures that promote physical distancing, reduce touch points and/or assist with minimizing the spread of COVID-19 including, but not limited to, the following:
    • Installing additional hand sanitizer and hand soap dispensers.
    • Leaving doors open at entry/exit points.

Tailgating

  • Institutions shall determine whether tailgating or other large gatherings of guests (e.g., alumni events, university recruiting events, etc.) are permitted on property owned and/or controlled by the institution in accordance with applicable state and local guidelines, policies and/or regulations. In the absence of state and/or local guidelines, CDC recommendations on physical distancing should be applied.
  • Consideration should be given as to the time parking lots open.

 

Team walks

  • Institutions shall determine whether team walks are permitted in accordance with applicable state and local guidelines, policies and/or regulations.
  • If permitted, all institutional personnel (e.g., student-athletes, coaches, team staff, athletic department staff, etc.) and guests in attendance shall wear face coverings.
  • If permitted, institutions shall ensure recommended physical distancing exists and may be maintained at all times between walk participants and guests. Team walks shall be prohibited if physical distancing cannot be implemented during their entirety.

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