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The NCAA’s Division I Southeastern Conference, or SEC, which is known for its powerhouse football programs, will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the fall 2020 season, Commissioner Greg Sankey announced in a July 30 news release. The start of the season will also be delayed until Sept. 26 from its original Sept. 5 start date.

The decision follows similar plans in response to the pandemic by other “Power Five” athletic conferences, such as the Pac-12 Conference and the Big Ten, which had previously announced their football teams would only play against other programs within the conference. The Atlantic Coast Conference announced on July 29 that its football team will play mostly interconference games, but each university will be allowed to have one nonconference opponent from within their state. The Big 12 is the only Power Five conference that has not announced its fall 2020 football plan.

Sankey said the conference-only schedule allows teams to be flexible should “disruptions” occur during the fall and follows the return-to-campus plans of the SEC’s member universities. The delayed start date will allow officials to monitor the spread of the coronavirus in the southern United States, where SEC campuses are located and cases of COVID-19 have lately spiked.

“After careful consideration of the public health indicators in our region and following advice of our medical advisors, we have determined that this is the best course of action to prepare for a safe and healthy return to competition for SEC student-athletes, coaches and others associated with our sports programs,” Sankey said in the release.