On Tuesday, the most powerful Football Conference in the country, the SEC, will gather it’s most important conference officials, school representatives and its coaches to meet in the Florida panhandle with several interesting subjects on the table.
It’s the 2019 version of the annual “SEC Spring Meetings” in Destin. And this year, subjects like alcohol sales inside of SEC venues, legalized gambling and even the ever-growing player “transfer portal” will be part of of the discussion:
Betting, booze and transfers up for discussion at SEC meetings https://t.co/twfjAqQMCB
— AJC (@ajc) May 27, 2019
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey gave some comments to the Associated Press on Sunday at the baseball tournament championship game in Alabama previewiing that alcohol and gambling were going to be two items at the forefront later this week.
The SEC is the only conference of the “Power Five” that currently does not allow alcohol sales within the general seating at the stadium. Alcohol is allowed in the club or sweet sections of SEC venues, including at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.
This obviously represents a humongous revenue opportunity for the schools and a way to draw more fans back into SEC stadiums. This is particularly as the Southeastern Conference has seen in attendance lag over the past few years, including reaching a 16 year low in 2018.
However, the SEC still by and large has much more football attendance than any other power conference and that’s primarily because of the passion and the tradition and success of the programs. Alcohol sales may or may not matter that much.
In terms of legalized sports betting after last year’s Supreme Court ruling, numerous states within the conference have already legalized it or are in the process of doing so. Tennessee earlier this month became the latest to join Alabama Mississippi and Louisiana in legalizing betting within their states.
At this point, there’s not much that Sankey and the conference can do, except continue to be vigilant on how gambling might infect the credibility of the games being played on Saturdays
Finally, another subject that is a growing concern for the NCAA, and the Southeastern Conference specifically, is the transfer portal. That allows players to immediately depart a program and have any other institution be notified to essentially re-recruit them. Hundreds and hundreds of football and basketball players have taken advantage of the portal over the past few years.
Florida had a prominent incoming freshman defensive back, Chris Steele, very quickly and publicly depart Dan Mullen’s program earlier this Spring and landed at Oregon after being in the portal.
Further on the transfer subject, the SEC has finally relented on letting players be able to transfer to a school within the conference. This applied to year ago to Gators wide receiver Van Jefferson, who was cleared to join Florida after having played the previous year at Ole Miss.
One other subject that will apparently be discussed among the SEC football coaches but may not gain much more traction is an LSU request that the league revisit permanent opponents in the opposite division for football.
LSU has long complained with the difficulty of the SEC West that they should not be forced to regularly play Florida as a permanent opponent. Rather, the Bayou Bengals would like to see their Eastern opponents rotate evenly.
The league is unlikely to budge on their long-standing policy since going to the two division format of having permanent rival matchups. This is because Alabama has traditionally played Tennessee for over 70 years and the same as the recent 50+ years of the Auburn-Georgia Rivalry. Those are two examples of the SEC permanent schedule cross division being great for the league.
And, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning on a day in which you won the lottery then having the SEC do away with those two rivalry matchups each year.
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