Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey expressed confidence that the SEC will finish its regular season and stage its championship game despite four postponements this week. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey said this was a "week unlike any other" after having to postpone four football games due to COVID-19 testing in a span of three days.
While speaking with reporters Wednesday, Sankey expressed confidence that the SEC will finish its regular season and stage its championship game despite the rising number of cases inside the conference.
Since Monday, the SEC has announced that Saturday's Alabama-LSU, Auburn-Mississippi State, Texas A&M-Tennessee and Georgia-Missouri games have been postponed after COVID-19 testing and subsequent contact tracing -- along with non-COVID-related injuries -- left many of those schools' rosters depleted of available scholarship players.
"I'm certainly shaken, but not deterred," Sankey said of this week's events. "I think it's important to remember that so far to date in football season we've completed 40 of our 70 games with a 10-game season for each of our 14 teams. That predicts to 70 games within the regular season.
"We recognized back in the summer that there would be the need to adjust. We provided opportunities for that. Those are not infinite opportunities, but we acknowledge the likelihood of adjustment."
Currently, the SEC title game is scheduled for Dec. 19. The league also could allow non-participants of that championship matchup to play make-up games on that date as well.
"We have finish lines right now," Sankey said. "So my focus is on December 19 for an SEC championship game. I've said that. The CFP semifinals are on the first of January, [with] the championship on the 11th. ... I've got to focus on trying to complete a season. At some point we have to have a finish line."
Meanwhile, Saturday's Big Ten contest between Ohio State and Maryland was canceled after the Terrapins paused all team-related activities due to an increased number of COVID-19 cases within their football program.
Over the past week, eight Maryland players have tested positive for the virus, the school said Wednesday.
"There is nothing more important than the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff," Maryland athletic director Damon Evans said in a statement.
"We realize that this news is disappointing to all of the Maryland fans out there who were looking forward to the Terps taking on an outstanding Ohio State team, but the responsible thing for us to do is pause football activities, given the number of positive cases currently in our program."
Wednesday's cancellation marks the third Big Ten game to be scrapped because of the coronavirus. Wisconsin was unable to play its last two games against Nebraska and Purdue due to COVID-19.