Latest SEC coronavirus-related policy suspends spring football, puts spring games in jeopardy

University of Alabama photo / Alabama quarterback Mac Jones will have to wait a little longer before spring practice can start for the Crimson Tide.

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Alabama was scheduled to start spring football practice Friday afternoon, unleashing a quarterback competition featuring Mac Jones, Taulia Tagovailoa and five-star early enrollee Bryce Young.

Instead, there was this email sent from Tuscaloosa: "Alabama has suspended spring football practice until further notice, including all football media-related activities. We will provide updates when more information is available."

More information became available when the Southeastern Conference announced that all organized team activities - competitions, team and individual practices, meetings and other team gatherings - for its member schools would be suspended through April 15 due to coronavirus concerns. The league previously announced that all competition was suspended through March 30, but it left spring football decisions up to the presidents, chancellors and athletic directors at each institution.

Friday's SEC announcement included football, which has resulted in the likely postponement of all 14 spring games and possibly the cancellation of some. Vanderbilt was scheduled to stage the SEC's first spring game on April 3, followed by South Carolina on April 4.

Tennessee was able to conduct two spring practices this week but will now have more than a month until its third workout. The new timetable also resulted in the Volunteers having to move back pro day and their coaching clinic, which had been scheduled for later this month.

During this school year, Tennessee has produced winning records in football (8-5), men's basketball (17-14), women's basketball (21-10), baseball (15-2) and softball (14-9), but those and other sports are being affected in this world of cautioning against the unknown.

"I am heartbroken for our student-athletes who have poured their heart and soul into their training and now find themselves in a season of uncertainty," Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer said through a release. "There are many lingering questions related to academics, eligibility, training schedules, housing and various other internal operations for which we do not yet have answers, but I am focused on actively engaging in the dialogue that is to come as we work to support our young men and women - highlighting their physical, mental and emotional wellness - to help them move forward.

"To our incredible fans, donors and alumni - I understand the frustration that comes along with canceled events, ticket refunds and many lost opportunities to celebrate Tennessee wins and championships, but I'm confident that these circumstances will stir the passion of the world's most extraordinary fan base, and that your love for the Vols and Lady Vols will shine through like never before when the action eventually resumes."

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne also reached out to his athletes and fans, writing, "Our hearts go out to all of our student-athletes, coaches and staff who have had their seasons interrupted/ended and our fans who have supported them every step of the way. Sports is such a uniting force, and we look forward to coming together to celebrate the Crimson Tide as soon as possible."

Auburn, Florida and Georgia were scheduled to begin spring football early next week, but Auburn announced Thursday night that Monday's start would be postponed. Georgia was set to open Tuesday, but athletic director Greg McGarity announced a delay Friday morning.

The NCAA on Friday enacted a dead period in recruiting for all sports that employs the same April 15 target date.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.