The SEC took notice of the myriad coaches and other people on the sideline not wearing their face coverings properly — or at all — during the conference’s opening weekend of football games.
In a letter obtained by the New York Times, commissioner Greg Sankey told teams that some in the conference needed “clear reminders” that they should wear a face covering while on the sidelines because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Others, including some head coaches, assistant coaches, support staff and student-athletes need clear reminders of the requirement they fulfill the new health protocols intended to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19,” the letter said.
“All coaches, staff and non-competing student-athletes are required to wear a face mask/neck gaiter on the sideline. Physical distancing should be employed to the extent possible.”
The penultimate sentence quoted above was bolded and underlined in the SEC’s letter.
Mississippi State coach Mike Leach’s team beat LSU to open the season. Leach was one of those coaches who wasn’t always wearing his face covering.
“I tried to remember the best I could but then I found myself talking all the time because I’m calling the plays as well so I was in a constant state of talking,” Leach said Monday in a news conference. “So between me taking it down to talk and me lifting it up and it falling down on its own and me remembering to put it back up I think there were a number of challenges there.”
While Leach said there was a chance he’d do better covering his face in Mississippi State’s next game, he also mused that covering your face had become a form of political appeasement.
“I try to do my best with it but once your six feet apart I can’t help but wonder if some of this is an homage to politicians,” Leach said.
NFL has fined teams and coaches
The SEC said in its letter that it would take “additional action” if it needed to after future game weeks.
“As the leader of your football program, it is important for you to comply with and emphasize these requirements continually around every game this season,” the letter said. “We will continue to monitor games and will take additional action, if necessary, to ensure adherence to the approved task force requirements as we all work to maintain a healthy environment for everyone around our games.”
The SEC moved the start of its season back to the final Saturday in September because of the pandemic. No SEC games so far have been postponed because of positive tests though 24 games through the first five weeks of the stilted college football season have been either postponed or canceled.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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