SEC changes ruling on virtual instruction

As the world continues to adapt to unprecedented times the SEC will follow suit. The league office will allow football coaches to meet with, instruct and hold meetings virtually with their players, according to reports from Brandon Marcello and Bud Elliott.

The league office sent a memo to the athletic departments outlining the new guidelines on how they can now meet with their players. Previously the league prohibited football-related interaction between coaches and players. With many of the SEC schools gearing up for spring football just before the spread of COVID-19 and cancellation of the spring seasons, coaches wanted a way to stay active with their team and prepare for the season and install the playbook.

Every school in the league has closed its campus but continues classes online. Now, coaches will be able to meet with their players virtually and conduct meetings, as they would in person at their facilities. This means coaches can breakdown film, install plays and have football meetings with their players, which had been prohibited since March 13. Coaches are prohibited to just two hours per week of mandatory activity.

The original ruling from the SEC came on March 13 prohibiting interactions and is copied below.

The March 13, 2020 policy is clarified and modified as follows:

1. All required physical athletic activities (e.g., strength and conditioning workouts, sport- specific workouts) shall be prohibited. This prohibition includes both in-person involvement, and any virtual involvement by institutional staff such as remotely watching, directing, or reviewing physical workouts.

2. Required virtual film review, chalk talk, etc. that does not include physical activity shall be permissible. Any required activity of this nature shall be limited to two (2) hours of activity per week in all sports, shall be scheduled in accordance with the institution’s established Time Management Policy, and shall not interfere with required class time for online instruction. These activities may not include a review by or live monitoring of film/video of a student-athlete engaging in workouts or physical activity occurring after March 13, 2020. Institutions may not suggest or require a student-athlete to make film/video of his/her workouts or physical activity available by other means (such as social media).

3. Prospective student-athletes may not be involved in any way in such required, countable activities conducted by the institution.

4. Only countable coaching staff members may be involved in providing technical or tactical instruction to student-athletes as part of such virtual activity.

5. Student-athletes may continue to be provided strength and conditioning workouts and/or sport-specific drills; however, coaches and other athletics staff may not observe the activity (virtually or in-person). Student-athletes may not be required to workouts and/or drills, nor may they be required to report back on such activity to any athletics staff member.

6. These modifications shall be effective as of 12:00 pm Central/1:00 pm Eastern on Monday, March 30.

7. Further assessment of off-season and/or summer activities will occur in the coming weeks.

8. Athletics programs are expected to comply with public health directives governing workplace activity and limitations on gatherings.

This policy does not impact the Conference’s earlier statement that you may continue to “provide student-athletes with care and support in the areas of academics; medical care; mental health and wellness; and housing, as needed.” Consistent with normal practice, violations of this SEC policy are to be reported to the Conference office and will be subject to penalties at the discretion of the Commissioner. If you have any questions, please contact our office

These guideless were enacted to provide no competitive advantages, while the SEC tried to wrap its head around an ever-changing atmosphere. As the days have turned into weeks it’s become apparent that we’re not getting back to normal for some time and the league has reversed its stance.

It remains unclear when the world will return to normal, students will be able to come back to school and football will resume again. There simply aren’t answers at the current time. This will, however, help the football teams to hit the ground running when that time comes and, perhaps, give the student-athletes some kind of structure and an escape from what is going on around them.

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