The SEC office announced on Tuesday afternoon that it is canceling all regular-season and non-conference competitions – including spring football games and pro days for NFL scouts – for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to the coronavirus.
The SEC was the last of the “Power Five” college conferences to cancel all competition. The Atlantic Coast Conference made a similar move earlier in the day.
“This is a difficult day for all of us, and I am especially disappointed for our student-athletes,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “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 initially suspended spring sports play through March 30 and later extended the hiatus through April 15 despite the NCAA canceling all its spring championships including the College World Series.
On Monday, Ole Miss athletics director Keith Carter hinted at the likelihood of complete cancellation by the SEC. He told reporters his department’s focus is now on summer and fall activities.
“Does that mean that student-athletes will come back in the summer? We need them here for both summer terms to kind of get them re-acclimated to campus, get back in shape and do those types of things,” Carter said. “We’re really turning our focus to the summer and the fall from a planning perspective.”
SEC teams remain suspended from team and individual practices, meetings and other organized gatherings — whether mandatory or voluntarily —through April 15.
“Mississippi State Athletics fully supports the SEC’s decision announced today,” said Mississippi State director of athletics John Cohen.
“While we are deeply disappointed for all of our hard working coaches, student-athletes, staff and devoted supporters, the top priority is everyone’s health and safety, and helping slow the spread of this virus.”
Both MSU and Ole Miss were off to successful starts in baseball, both ranked among the nation’s top 20 teams.
The 16-1 Rebels were eighth in the last D1Baseball.com rankings that were released and riding a 16-game winning streak entering conference play, one shy of a 60-year old school record.
The 17th-ranked Diamond Dogs were plagued by the injury bug to All-Americans JT Ginn and Tanner Allen but had still posted a 12-4 record. State was coming off a two-game midweek sweep of No. 4 Texas Tech in Biloxi before play was suspended last week.