In December 2004 the Southeastern Conference became the first league to institute rules prohibiting fans from celebrating big wins by rushing the court or field. If a school failed in keeping spectators off the court they’d be fined, with the amount being $5,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second and $50,000 for a third.
Friday on the final day of the conference’s annual meetings, the SEC announced that fans rushing the court would cost its member schools even more in the future.
Instead of $5,000, a first offense will cost a school $50,000 with the fines for second and third offenses increasing to $100,000 and $250,000, respectively. These changes were approved by the schools, and the commissioner would be allowed to apply additional penalties (those aren’t specified in the announcement) if he saw fit to do so.
“This is designed to be a deterrent,” outgoing SC commissioner Mike Slive said, according to ESPN.com. “This is designed to try to change the culture about rushing the field, understanding that it’s viewed by some as a tradition. But it’s a tradition that runs into the question of health and safety of not only the fans themselves but the coaches and players.”
Also of note in this change is the fact that after the third offense, $250,000 is the least that a school would pay for its fans rushing the court of field. Originally the counting of offenses would “reset” three years after the first instance of fans violating the rule.
For some conferences, the task of putting together a schedule has become a bit more cumbersome thanks to conference realignment with the size of the league ruling out the possibility of every team playing each other twice. With that being the case adjustments need to be made, and for the SEC this means a new scheduling format that was revealed at the conference’s annual meetings in Destin, Florida on Thursday.
While the number of conference games each team plays, 18, will not change the setup for the schedules has changed. In total each team will play five opponents both home and away with three of those being “permanent” opponents that they’ll see twice a year every season. They’ll face the other eight teams on the schedule just once, with four of those games being home contests and four coming on the road.
The conference also announced the three “permanent” opponents for each team, and they are:
Alabama – Auburn / Mississippi State / LSU
Arkansas – Missouri / Texas A&M / LSU
Auburn – Alabama / Ole Miss / Georgia
Florida – Kentucky / Georgia / Vanderbilt
Georgia – South Carolina / Florida / Auburn
Kentucky – Florida / Tennessee / Vanderbilt
LSU – Texas A&M / Alabama / Arkansas
Ole Miss – Mississippi State / Auburn / Missouri
Mississippi State – Ole Miss / Alabama / South Carolina
Missouri – Arkansas / Texas A&M / Ole Miss
South Carolina – Georgia / Tennessee / Mississippi State
Tennessee – Vanderbilt / Kentucky / South Carolina
Texas A&M – LSU / Arkansas / Missouri
Vanderbilt – Tennessee / Kentucky / Florida
According to the release the full SEC conference schedule will be unveiled in August. The SEC’s done a good job of protecting many of its rivalries with this move, and scheduling stability can only help the league moving forward. Five teams reached the NCAA tournament this past season, and the SEC is expected to take a step forward in 2015-16.
In each of the first two seasons of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, the schedule has been a bit spread out. The first event, held during the 2013-14 season, spanned the months of November and December with this year’s version being better from a scheduling standpoint with games being held from December 3-6.
Thursday the conferences announced another change to the schedule, and it’s one that should help the profile of the event moving forward.
Next year’s Challenge will consist of ten games played on one day, January 30, 2016. The four SEC programs that aren’t selected for the event will play a conference game on that day, with those two matchups being determined by the SEC Network according to the release.
“Moving the Big 12/SEC Challenge later in the season will raise the profile of this event and give our coaches, student-athletes and fans the attention that it deserves,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in the release.
By that point in the season the conferences will have a better idea of which games would best benefit them from an NCAA tournament resume standpoint, although it isn’t stated in the release when the ten Challenge games will be determined. If there’s a way to simply determine which teams will host a game and which will have to travel before the season begins, that could lend itself to greater flexibility when it comes to figuring out the matchups.
According to the release, in future years the goal for the conferences will be to find a common open date in either January or February to hold the event.