SPARTANBURG, S.C. — The Southern Conference announced Thursday a number of cost containment measures at both the institutional and conference levels to address the financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as approved by the Southern Conference Council of Presidents and directors of athletics. All measures are designed exclusively for the 2020-21 academic year and will be reevaluated at the end of the academic year.
"The Southern Conference continues to be served well by its tight geographic footprint, both in terms of reducing travel time for student-athletes and reducing costs for member institutions, something increasingly important in these challenging times," said Mercer President Bill Underwood, Council of Presidents Chairman. "I believe that these strategies will further enhance the cost effectiveness of SoCon membership while continuing to ensure high quality experiences for our student-athletes."
The measures include:
- Reducing the number of teams qualifying for conference championships to the top four teams in the regular season in the sports of men's and women's soccer, volleyball, men's and women's tennis, softball and baseball;
- Scaling back on conference championship expenses while ensuring quality and memorable events;
- Reducing all conference baseball series from three days to two;
- Reducing the men's and women's golf championships from three days to two;
- Adjusting in-person coaches' meetings and the conference's fall meetings to virtual events;
- Adjusting in-person football and basketball media days to virtual events;
- Identifying other potential savings concepts that each institution can implement per its preference.
Additionally, the conference office will reduce staff travel to regular-season contests and conventions and professional development seminars. Conference staff has been reduced and salaries will also be frozen.
"This was an important first step in the process of dealing with the effects of COVID-19 on the collegiate sporting model at Mercer and in the SoCon," said Mercer Director of Athletics Jim Cole. "We stand ready and flexible to deal with all possible scenarios in the coming months. We will continue to work diligently every day to provide the proper services that protect the health and safety of our athletes, staff and patrons while ensuring an excellent overall experience for everyone."
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