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Volume 26 No. 229
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SEC's Sankey Not Sure What CFP, NIL Change Could Look Like Yet

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is in favor of more discussion before moving forward on either CFP expansion or name, image and likeness rights for college athletes. During a Q&A on Day 1 of the '19 Learfield IMG College Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, Sankey said he supports ongoing reviews of the CFP’s current four-team format, but added before there can be “any more speculative conversation about expansion of a playoff, there has to be a lot of work to understand those impacts on participants.” He cited teams playing in the games, coaches, administrators, fans, the regular season and bowls as he addressed “a lot of complexities” related to the issue. Sankey: “It’s not like they walk into a room, flip a light switch and all of a sudden, we have a new format. There’s a reason for the number chosen.” Sankey said there "hasn’t been a lot of observation about what principles were established" back in '12-13 into '14, when the playoff started, that are “not being achieved or fulfilled in the way envisioned.” He said that “doesn’t mean it’s perfect for everybody,” but it “certainly has fulfilled the expectations.”

CHANGE IS COMING: The commish said it is “very clear that we're about to go through change” regarding NIL rights for college athletes. But Sankey asked, “How does that change continue to maintain the educational value that is present in college athletics? … How do we maintain opportunity equality, things that we've established across our athletics programs and then pivot to perhaps an updated model?” He concluded, “I’m open.”

UNDER REVIEW: The SEC began focusing on educating and informing fans about the league's officiating process about a year ago, and one of the ways the conference has communicated that process is through social media, with its @SECOfficiating Twitter account that was unveiled this season. Sankey said, “We know there are going to be controversies, and there are going to be opinions about every play.” He added, “We're not doing this because we're thrilled about talking about officiating all the time. The reality is it is being talked about for all of us and I think everyone has to adapt.”

LEVEL OF CARE: The talk with Sankey turned toward medical treatment for student athletes, specifically Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, who dislocated his hip in a game against Mississippi State this season. Sankey was asked, “What responsibilities do we have to collegiate athletes who get hurt and may have injuries that they take with them beyond their college days?” Sankey responded, “SEC Network had a five-minute segment on the quality of treatment provided to him, which is there for other student athletes, tennis players, track athletes, in our facilities.” He added, “We've obligated ourselves to post eligibility medical care under the autonomy process. … I speak for our institutions and say I think they provide outstanding medical care in those circumstances.”