FAYETTEVILLE — The Southeastern Conference on Tuesday moved beyond postponing athletic competition and practices for its 14 members to completely cancelling competition for the remainder of the 2020 season which ends in June.
The cancelations result from last week’s National Emergency declared aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
The SEC office in Birmingham, Alabama, released this following statement.
“The Southeastern Conference today announced that all regular season conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic year, including all remaining SEC championship events, due to continuing developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition, all spring football games are cancelled and there will be no pro days conducted by SEC institutions.”
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey explained cancelling competition that last week he had postponed through April 15 after cancelling last Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee, the four-day SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament after the first round’s two games.
“This is a difficult day for all of us, and I am especially disappointed for our student-athletes,” Sankey said. “The health and well-being of our entire conference community is an ongoing priority for the SEC as we continue to monitor developments and information about the COVID-19 virus.”
The SEC suspension of all activities remains through April 15 for all men’s and women’s sports.
“Other athletics activities, including team and individual practices, meetings and other organized gatherings, whether required or voluntary, remain suspended through at least April 15,” according to the SEC’s Tuesday statement. “SEC member institutions will continue to provide their student-athletes with care and support to meet needs in areas including academics, medical care, mental health and wellness, nutrition and housing as needed.
The SEC and its member institutions will continue to communicate with public health officials and medical experts to determine the best path forward related to coronavirus pandemic.”
Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek issued a statement at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday following the SEC announcement.
“While I am extremely disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches and our fans that the 2019-20 competitive seasons have officially come to an end, I believe the decision made today by the Southeastern Conference and its member institutions is in the best interest of all parties,” Yurachek said. “It has become readily apparent that with the current situation and what would be required to do so that any kind of resumption of competition would be highly unlikely. By making a final determination, we have enabled student-athletes to have closure related to the remainder of this season as well as move forward with the completion of the academic semester, preparation for future seasons or other opportunities that may await.
“As we officially close the chapter of the current athletics year, our focus turns to the future and our efforts to make the 2020-21 athletic year a special one for our student-athletes, coaches and Razorback fans.”
Last Friday, Yurachek, had said with the pandemic’s status and with the NCAA having already canceled all NCAA championships that would have been conducted in March and May and June that it was unlikely that competition would be resumed later this spring.
He also announced Friday that all UA facilities were closed to UA athletes other than the Jones Center for academic support and nutrition and on an appointment basis for those Razorbacks rehabbing from injuries.
On Friday, Yurachek had hoped pending progress curbing the virus’ spread that a waiver would be granted for spring football practice in May or June.
Tuesday’s SEC statement hasn’t entirely quashed that hope just yet.
For now, many Razorbacks have gone home as University of Arkansas on campus classes have ceased with the remainder of the spring semester conducted online.
The SEC also announced automatic full ticket refunds for those who purchased advance tickets to the SEC Baseball Tournament from May 19-24 in Hoover, Alabama, and the May 6-9 SEC Women’s Softball Tournament, hosted by the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.