SEC forms new medical task force

Sooner or later sports will be back and the Southeastern Conference is doing everything it can now to be ready for the future.

On Thursday the SEC announced a medical task force to guide the league’s preparation in the coming days, weeks and months so that they are ready to bring sports back as quickly and safely as possible.

The task force is comprised of 14 medical professionals, which will guide the league’s decision making related to the return of athletics, including team gatherings, practices, conditioning and competition. The task force has been meeting virtually in April and updates from those meetings are being sent to university presidents, chancellors and athletic directors.

“As the Southeastern Conference Office continues to closely monitor and learn about COVID-19 and associated public health information, this task force of medical professionals has begun to provide the guidance necessary to make decisions related to the return to athletics activities for SEC student-athletes and to assist in our collaboration with colleague conferences in determining a safe return to athletics competition,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “The expertise of these medical professionals is playing an important role in our continuing focus on the health and well-being of SEC student-athletes.”

The task force doesn’t have final say, that remains with the Sankey and the schools but their opinion does carry weight.

In a release by the conference the task force will be responsible for: identifying recommended protocols and best practices for guiding the safe return to in-person on-campus meetings, individual workouts, out-of-season activities and skill instruction, and practice activities for student-athletes and coaches; identifying the desired amount of practice and training time required to safely acclimate student-athletes into competition; and identifying opportunities for a return to competition, including considerations for student-athletes, administrators, support staff, officials and fans.

The 14 members of the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force:
• Dr. Jimmy Robinson, University of Alabama-Head Team Physician and Medical Director
• Dr. Chris Arnold, University of Arkansas, Orthopedic Surgeon/Team Physician
• Dr. Mike Goodlett, Auburn University, Chief Medical Officer/Team Physician
• Dr. Jay Clugston, University of Florida, Team Physician
• Ron Courson, University of Georgia, Senior Associate. Athletics Director/Sports Medicine
• Jim Madaleno, University of Kentucky, Executive Associate Athletics Director/Sports Medicine and Performance
• Dr. Catherine O’Neal, LSUHSC Assistant Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases
• Dr. Marshall Crowther, University of Mississippi, Medical Director/Sports Medicine Physician
• Dr. Cliff Story, Mississippi State University, Director of University Health Services
• Dr. Stevan Whitt, University of Missouri, Associate Professor of Medicine, Divisions of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Infectious Diseases; Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, University of Missouri School of Medicine, Chief Clinical Officer
• Dr. Zoë Foster, University of South Carolina, Program Director, Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship
• Dr. Chris Klenck, University of Tennessee, Head Team Physician • Dr. Shawn Gibbs, Texas A&M University, Dean of School of Public Health
• Dr. Warne Fitch, Vanderbilt University, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Associate Professor of Orthopedics

Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC