SEC announces guidelines for participation
With three college games already cancelled heading into week two of the season, the SEC has finally released their minimum standards for participation once the season starts on September 26:
"To play a football game, the SEC has established minimum thresholds of at least 53 scholarship players available to participate and the following minimum number of position scholarship players available to begin a game: seven (7) offensive linemen (which includes one center), one (1) quarterback and four (4) defensive linemen. The impacted institution has the option to play the game with fewer than the 53 scholarship players or fewer than the minimum number of position players listed above if it elects to do so. Otherwise, upon approval by the Commissioner, the game would be rescheduled or declared a no contest.
"In addition, should an institution determine there are compelling reasons why it cannot begin a contest regardless of the scholarship and position minimums above, the institution may request to have the game rescheduled or, if the game cannot be rescheduled, for the game to be considered a no contest by presenting data (including total number of players not available to participate) outlining reasons why the game should not be played as scheduled. The final decision to reschedule or declare the game a no contest is vested only with the Commissioner."
In essence, with a roster of 85 scholarships, a team can be without 31 players and still compete. However, if the competitive standard is reduced to a point where it's just not realistic or fair to play even with 53 or more scholarship players, the program can present a case for postponement or cancellation.
According to SEC guidelines, anyone who tests positive must isolate for 10 days and test negative before returning to action. Anyone determined to have unmitigated contact for more than 15 minutes with a positive case must quarantine for 14 days. That means if a student athlete tested positive early this week, they may be able to return to play by Saturday's season opener, but if a player started their quarantine period after the 12th of September cannot.
Arkansas Athletics Director Hunter Yurachek said on the radio Friday morning that if Arkansas was playing this weekend, they'd have players missing but didn't say they wouldn't be able to compete. Due to the athletics department's current policies, they are not releasing case numbers or quarantine numbers but Yurachek said they've had fewer than 100 athletes and staff test positive.
First year head coach Sam Pittman told Halftime on Friday that positive Covid tests and quarantine guidelines have impacted the Hogs' practices and has forced a lot of cross training amongst every position group possible.
The Razorbacks have emphasized cross-training especially amongst the offensive line, the secondary and the linebackers. They've also had six different linemen work at center, with Pittman wanting to travel at least three for away games.
Arkansas is scheduled to start the season at home against Georgia next Saturday.