When protests late last month in Atlanta over the senseless killing of George Floyd quickly gave way to downtown rioting, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms delivered a passionate plea to those present to end the chaos by going home.
Moments later in her stirring address, Bottoms said, "If you want change in America, go and register to vote. Show up at the polls on June 9, and show up in November. That's the change we need in this country."
Georgia Tech followed that train of thought, announcing on June 4 that there would be no mandatory activities for student-athletes representing its nine fall semester programs on Nov. 3, the date of this year's general election. This past Friday, NCAA president Mark Emmert and the NCAA's board of governors encouraged all of its member schools to do the same.
"The recent demonstrations following the tragic killing of George Floyd showed the world the power of protest and student-athletes across the country were at the center of that movement," the NCAA said in a prepared statement. "We commend NCAA student-athletes who recognized the need for change and took action though safe and peaceful protest. We encourage students to continue to make their voices heard on these important issues, engage in community activism, and exercise their constitutional rights.
"Further, we encourage all member schools to assist students in registering to vote in the upcoming national election and designate Nov. 3, 2020, as a day off from athletics activity so athletes can vote and participate in their ultimate responsibility as citizens."
University of Georgia director of player programs Bryant Gantt posted an Instagram video Saturday of Bulldogs players with the accompanying message, "What a great feeling as the team walked to the Board of Elections and Voter Registration and registered to vote. Taking Steps!!!"
The Southeastern Conference has seven head-to-head league football matchups on Saturday, Nov. 7, including Alabama's trip to LSU, so no programs would be at any kind of disadvantage from a preparation standpoint. Tennessee is scheduled to host Kentucky that day, while Georgia is scheduled to play at South Carolina.
Buffalo and Northern Illinois were scheduled to play the night of Nov. 3, but the Mid-American Conference said Friday it is working to reschedule that game.