The Southeastern Conference joined the Big Ten and Pac-12 in canceling non-conference football games this fall, altering its schedule to a 10-game slate of intra-conference play that will begin on Sept. 26.
The move, announced by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on Thursday, gives member schools both additional time and flexibility in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing back its original schedule by three weeks.
"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," 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 SEC also pushed back the date of the SEC Championship Game by two weeks, from Dec. 5 to Dec. 19, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Under the new schedule, each school will have one midseason idle date, and all schools will be idle on Dec. 12, which will provide for flexibility in the event that further schedule adjustments are necessary. The league will announce specific games at a later date, pending approval by athletic directors.
The SEC's announcement leaves the Big 12 conference as the only Power Five league that has yet to formally reschedule. Earlier this summer, the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced cancellation of all non-conference games. On Wednesday, the ACC announced it would play an 11-game model with 10 conference games plus one non-conference game that would have to be an in-state opponent. That left open the possibility of various SEC-ACC rivalry games, including Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech and Kentucky-Louisville. The SEC's decision, however, takes those games off the table.