LEXINGTON, Ky (UK Athletics) – The Southeastern Conference announced Thursday an adjusted schedule for the 2020 football season. As a result, the start of the season has been delayed and Kentucky football will now play a 10-game schedule, all against SEC opponents, beginning on Sept. 26.
A revised schedule for the 2020 SEC football season will be announced at a later date. UK’s 10-game schedule will include one mid-season open date and an open date on Dec. 12. The SEC Football Championship Game will be played Dec. 19 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, rescheduled from the original date of Dec. 5.
“Our adjusted schedule puts us in the best possible position to play the 2020 football season,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We are excited to focus as a football program and an athletics department on preparing to kick off the season on Sept. 26.”
The adjustment allows SEC universities to focus on the healthy return of campus communities and the gradual re-introduction of athletics, as the 14 members of the SEC continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19. The actions were taken following extensive discussions and thorough deliberation among the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors, Athletics Directors, Conference Office staff, and medical advisors, led by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.
With the adjusted schedule, UK’s annual rivalry game with Louisville will not be played this season. The SEC’s decision to limit competition to Conference-only schedules and rescheduling of the SEC Championship Game is based on the need for maximum flexibility in making any necessary scheduling adjustments while reacting to developments around the pandemic and continued advice from medical professionals.
“I fully support the SEC’s decision to move to conference-only games, though we are disappointed we won’t have the chance to compete with Louisville for the Governor’s Cup this season,” Barnhart said. “That series means a great deal to the Commonwealth and we look forward to working with Louisville to continue the series in seasons to come.”
Kentucky Head Football Coach Mark Stoops also weighing in on the schedule change.
“I’m glad there is a plan in place so we can move forward with preparations for the season,” Stoops says. “I understand and support the decision to begin on September 26. Everyone would like to play a full schedule, including our rivalry game with Louisville, but this timing and format gives us our best opportunity to adjust to these unique circumstances.”
The rescheduled start to the season will allow the SEC to continue to monitor health trends across its 11-state footprint, as well as monitor developments in technology around mitigation and treatment of the virus, including:
- Trends in public health indicators throughout the SEC’s 11-state footprint, including positive cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations and recovery statistics
- State, local and campus heath directives, including restrictions on gatherings, isolation requirements for travelers, and other health and travel restrictions
- Continued development of risk mitigation strategies
- Continued advancement in COVID-19 testing reliability and availability
- Continued evolution of time-based strategies for resuming activities after positive test results, including contact tracing, isolation and quarantine requirements
- Observation of successes and challenges presented by return to competition in other sports
UK Athletics continues to work with university, SEC and state officials to determine capacity and attendance protocol for its five home games. Fans who have questions or need special accommodations are encouraged to contact the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 (option 4).
Other notes related to the resumption of competition:
- The SEC announced in July that the sports of men’s and women’s cross country, soccer and volleyball would be postponed through at least August 31. Start dates and schedules for those sports, as well as sports in their non-traditional seasons during the fall, will be announced at a later date.
- The SEC announced in July that student-athletes in all sports who elect to not participate in intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 academic semester because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.
- The SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force continues to meet on policies and procedures for the safe return of student-athletes to competition, including the development of comprehensive testing and reporting policies, building on the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines.
- Each athletics program has been engaged in evaluating best practices for game operations to prepare a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, staff, officials and other individuals necessary to conduct games.