SEC likely to continue ban of stadium-wide alcohol sales

The SEC is the only major conference that does not allow its member institutions to develop their own policies on alcohol sales at athletic venues such as Tennessee's Neyland Stadium.

The Southeastern Conference does not allow stadium-wide alcohol sales at college football games or in other campus-held competitions.

That is not expected to change any time soon.

As the league wraps its annual spring meetings today in Destin, Florida, the topic of selling beer throughout its sporting events has been discussed, according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. The SEC remains the only major conference that does not allow its schools to develop their own policies regarding alcohol sales.

Kicking off

The first three kickoff times for Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee are known for the 2018 season (all times Eastern):ALABAMA9/1 Louisville in Orlando (8 on ABC)9/8 Arkansas State (3:30 on ESPN2)9/15 at Ole Miss (7 on ESPN)GEORGIA9/1 Austin Peay (3:30 on ESPN)9/8 at South Carolina (3:30 on CBS)9/15 MTSU (7:15 on ESPN2)TENNESSEE9/1 West Virginia in Charlotte (3:30 on CBS)9/8 East Tennessee State (4 on SEC Network)9/15 UTEP (noon on SEC Network)

"There has been ongoing dialogue," Sankey said in a news conference earlier this week, "so it's not just a topic that exists only when the newspaper articles are written two weeks before Destin every year. It hasn't produced change among the membership."

Selling alcohol throughout SEC venues was discussed at last year's spring meetings before being tabled by league presidents and chancellors.

Sankey said alcohol sales falls under a game management policy that is a part of conference membership and the membership would have to vote to enact a change. Judging by the reaction of several SEC athletic directors this week, the push for alcohol sales has not generated keg loads of conversation.

"There has been very little," Alabama's Greg Byrne told reporters. "I know there are some schools that want more autonomy and some schools that don't. We're not leading the charge on that."

Said Florida's Scott Stricklin: "I don't see us opening up across the stadium any time soon as a league."

The SEC's staunch stance is actually in contrast to the NCAA, which voted in April to lift the ban on alcohol sales at its championship events. Alcohol has been allowed stadium-wide during college football's four-team playoff and in New Year's Six bowl games, with those contests not administered by the NCAA.

Forbes magazine last month reported that Texas has generated more than $3 million in stadium-wide alcohol sales each of the last two football seasons, netting $1.3 million each year after expenses. Ohio State introduced alcohol sales in 2016, netting $1.17 million that season and $1.23 million last year.

The Des Moines (Iowa) Register recently reported that at least 52 Bowl Subdivision programs will offer stadium-wide alcohol sales in the 2018 football season.

Alcohol sales throughout each SEC stadium would provide the obvious plus of revenue on top of ticket sales - the SEC has led all conferences in college football attendance for 20 consecutive seasons - and the obvious concern of fan safety. The league does allow alcohol sales in what Sankey labels "private and controlled" areas of athletic venues, and those areas are on the rise.

LSU introduced its Skyline Club last football season, which is an area above the stands in Tiger Stadium's south end zone, and Auburn and Texas A&M just this spring unveiled beer gardens at their baseball facilities.

SEC injury reports?

These are the first SEC meetings since the Supreme Court's recent decision to give states the right to develop their own policies on sports gambling.

Sankey was asked this week if his league was ready to "embrace" this new world, and he responded that he wants the SEC to "understand" it. NFL teams each week are required to produce accurate injury updates to avoid the potential of gamblers collecting insider information, and Sankey was asked if it's been discussed whether required injury reports could some day become part of the college game.

"It comes up, but not in a way that's been cemented," he said. "We haven't baked any policy. We don't know what legislation may manifest itself from the states, and I think there is wisdom in seeing what may happen or will happen.

"We have a variety of federal laws that protect privacy rights of student-athletes. That's a dynamic that NFL teams in their injury reporting have not had central to their thinking."

Here for a while

College basketball's one-and-done rule was birthed in 2005 by an NBA collective bargaining agreement, and it established that all United States players must be at least a year removed from high school to be eligible for the NBA draft.

More than a dozen years later, the rule still has plenty of detractors, but Kentucky coach John Calipari told reporters this week that change isn't coming any time soon.

"I believe it will be in place for at least two more years and maybe longer," he said.

Walthour won't enroll

Georgia defensive tackle signee Tramel Walthour will not be joining the Bulldogs this summer, instead starting out his college career at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. The 6-foot-4, 277-pounder from Hinesville, Georgia, was a three-star prospect this past winter, according to 247Sports.com.

Contact David Paschall at [email protected] or 423-757-6524.