Yesterday, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey stressed the importance of players getting vaccinated prior to the 2021 season. Unlike last year, the league will not reschedule games due to COVID-19, meaning that if a team has an outbreak, it may be forced to forfeit. Teams that have 85% of their players vaccinated will not be required to test regularly or wear masks inside school facilities. So far, six of the 14 teams in the league have reached the 80% mark; Kentucky is not one of them, Mark Stoops confirmed today at SEC Media Days.
“We’re going to continue to educate our players and try to reach that threshold,” Stoops said. “We have a ways to go but I believe it’s attainable. We want them to make the right decisions for themselves. I’ll let the experts come in and continue to educate them and talk to them about the benefits of it and possibly some of the negatives and let each of them make their own decision.”
Prior to taking the stage in the main room, Stoops met with local reporters and reiterated that he believes getting the vaccine is a “personal decision.”
“We just try to educate them as best we can, put the facts in front of them. It’s a personal choice and I want our experts to talk to them and show them the statistics and let the player make their own personal decision.”
Sankey said that for the SEC to have a normal football season, teams need to encourage their players to get the shot and do it now.
“Right now, 43% of our football teams, that’s 6 of 14, have reached the 80% threshold in roster vaccination,” Sankey said. “That number needs to grow and grow rapidly. We have learned how to manage through a COVID environment, but we do not yet have control of a COVID environment, and that finds us preparing to return towards normal this fall, but we see the realities around us.”
“Let me be clear to our fans, to our coaches, to our staff members, and to our student-athletes: COVID-19 vaccines are widely available,” Sankey added. “They’ve proven to be highly effective. And when people are fully vaccinated, we all have the ability to avoid serious health risks, reduce the virus’ spread, and maximize our chances of returning to a normal college football experience and to normal life. With six weeks to go before kickoff, now is the time to seek that full vaccination.”