HOOVER, Ala. — Rescheduling any games that are postponed as a result of a hurricane or tropical storms will be done in a more orderly fashion than it was following last year’s LSU-Florida contest.
That’s the promise SEC commissioner Greg Sankey made at the opening of 2017 SEC Media Days on Monday.
“Obviously a lot of learning last year. We didn’t have a policy as a conference once you move past game day,” Sankey said. “That has to be the authority of the commissioner to designate the game day. That has been corrected.”
What should have been a matter of routine when Hurricane Matthew approached Gainesville, Fla., last fall devolved into a juvenile flexing contest between LSU athletic director Joe Alleva and outgoing Florida AD Jeremy Foley.
Florida refused to move the day or site of the scheduled contest despite the forecast, and LSU refused to give up a home game to go to Gainesville. As a result, the teams played at Tiger Stadium six weeks after the game was initially scheduled. They will play in Florida this season and next.
Sankey, who took the unusual step of granting an in-game interview during the CBS broadcast of the Tennessee-Texas A&M game last season to emphasize the need for the Gators and Tigers to reschedule, will avoid being put in such an awkward position again.
“The membership voted, both our athletic directors and our presidents unanimously, to say the conference commissioner has the authority to place that game, No. 1,” Sankey said. “No. 2, we also had a couple pieces of policy that set the expectation that all eight conference games be played in order to be eligible for the conference championship. We’ve made that now an explicit commissioner’s regulation. Again, our athletics directors and our presidents voted 14-0 to endorse that clarity of rule.”
In the future, each school will be expected to come up with a contingency plan for emergency scenarios, an area in which Florida faltered in the lead-up to Matthew by insisting the game would be played in Gainesville on a Saturday.
“We’ve also talked since our athletics directors’ meeting in December about the very specific contingency plans that happen on our campuses,” Sankey said. “We meet with our athletic directors next month, and those items will be another topic of conversation. And if you can imagine, just from a practical standpoint, we had a few war games in our office about ‘what if?’
“We will engage in that process as we move toward football season again. The two key policy changes to say explicitly, it’s no longer about two schools agreeing. It’s about the commissioner having the authority to designate when the game may be played, and that was adopted by our membership.”