SEC to play conference-only schedule, eliminating season opener between CCU, UofSC

SEC to play conference-only schedule, eliminating season opener between CCU, UofSC
FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2019, file photo, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (24) intercepts the ball from Georgia wide receiver George Pickens (1) during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game in Atlanta. (Source: AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

CONWAY, S.C. (AP/WMBF) - Officials with the Southeastern Conference announced Thursday their football season would begin Sept. 26 and will be comprised of a 10-game conference-only schedule.

According to a press release, the SEC Football Championship Game will be played Dec. 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. That’s rescheduled from the original Dec. 5 date.

The schedule will include one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on Dec. 12 for all schools, according to conference officials.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers’ season opener was set to take place against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia on Sept. 5.

According to information from CCU, the Chants would have been paid $1.4 million for the game.

Matt Hogue, the director of athletics for CCU, released this statement after the report came out about the SEC’s schedule:

“We are aware of today’s announcement by the Southeastern Conference that impacts our football contest with the University of South Carolina. While it is disappointing that our student-athletes will not have this opportunity to open our season, we will continue moving forward with our planning and precautions towards the remaining games on our schedule.  We will work in conjunction with the Sun Belt Conference to address all options and scenarios concerning schedule changes.”

“We continue to remain optimistic about resuming competitions this fall with the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans as the foremost priority following guidance and protocols set forth by our medical personnel, the Sun Belt Conference, NCAA, and our University, state, and local authorities.”

CCU still has a home game scheduled against Kansas. According to the contract, Coastal would pay $200,000 for this 2020 game.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced their intentions to play only conference games earlier this month, but the Atlantic Coast Conference this week announced a reworked 11-game schedule that left room for one non-conference game, according to the Associated Press.

The ACC wanted to allow four of its schools to maintain in-state rivalry games with SEC schools, but now Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina and Kentucky-Louisville have been canceled, the AP reported.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have yet to reveal their schedules but both could come as soon as Friday.

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