HOOVER, Ala. — SEC commissioner Greg Sankey watched the news last Thursday night with a couple perspectives: A man who lived in Dallas for 11 years, and a man involved in a conference that includes young people of all races.
Sankey, during his lengthy speech to open SEC media days, spent a good deal of time touching on the events of last week, which he said “seems like a long time ago. The sadness of the last few days remains on all of our minds.”
The commissioner went on to quote Pete Seeger, Nelson Mandela and the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds. He talked about being in church on Sunday morning, thinking about the events in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Minnesota, and the wider discussion about race.
“With the sadness from last week in our minds and hearts, now is a time to weep and mourn with the families and cities that have experienced loss,” Sankey said. “A time to embrace. A time to love. A time for peace. Now is a time when each is needed.”
Sankey’s speech itself, and the brief question-and-answer period that followed, didn’t make much news. He was asked many of the same questions as he was at SEC meetings in early June, and had many of the same answers. That included a host of the off-field issues: Domestic violence transfers, SEC teams signing players with domestic violence issues, and whether he’d have a problem with SEC athletes speaking out on those issues.
The commissioner demurred on the last question, calling it a hypothetical that needs to be addressed on each campus.
Sankey also said goodbye from the podium to a number of notable people in the SEC who are retiring or have retired: Steve Spurrier, Jeremy Foley and Verne Lundquist. He also spent a few minutes talking about Pat Summit, a couple weeks after the death of the legendary former Tennessee women’s basketball coach.
“From all of us, I just simply want to say thank you,” Sankey said.
The speech concluded with the unveiling of a new SEC motto: “It just means more.” Sankey cited the events and places impacted by SEC sports off the field, including Chubb-town in Georgia.
“It can’t be measured on a scoreboard,” Sankey said of the impact of SEC athletics. “It can be mentioned in people’s lives.”
As Sankey said all that, news was coming out that Auburn would not be suspending four players for marijuana arrests this spring. The scoreboard, it seems, does still count.