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“We’re going to have cases on every single team in the SEC” conference official tells football players

The biggest conference in college football is basically telling football players to deal with it. And any discussion of a bubble was blown off without an answer.

Texas A&M Aggies linebacker Keeath Magee II looks on during the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Florida Gators on October 14, 2017 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in Gainesville, FL. Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A shocking report out of the Washington Post this morning, detailing the back-and-forth between Southeastern Conference officials and the league’s Student-Athlete Leadership Council, which consists of current players in the 14-team league.

What was supposed to be a “confidential free exchange” according to an SEC spokesman has leaked, and the quotes about the upcoming college football season regarding Covid-19 from what should be the adults in the room are terrifying and often unidentified.

“There are going to be outbreaks,” one official told players on the call. (The official didn’t identify himself, and the SEC spokesman declined to identify him to The Post.) “We’re going to have cases on every single team in the SEC. That’s a given. And we can’t prevent it.”

Some of the more amazing words came right from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who makes $2.5 million per year while the athlete’s on the call remain unpaid.

Sankey, who earned a $2.5 million salary in 2018, responded: “Part of our work is to bring as much certainty in the midst of this really strange time as we can so you can play football in the most healthy way possible, with the understanding there aren’t any guarantees in life.”

“My advice is you’re going to have to go live your life in this environment,” the commissioner said. “I think that’s the challenge that we’re trying to meet.”

The commissioner of the largest and most important league in college sports sounding like your uncle on Facebook telling you everything is fine because you’re young and healthy is not a great look.

When Ole Miss linebacker MoMo Sanogo, chair of the SEC Football Leadership Council, asked about the health implications of Covid-19 and what can be done to keep athletes from being exposed, this is what he was told from an unidentified official on the call.

But he admitted the arrangement was “not fair” to athletes, who might take every precaution but still be infected by the students who don’t.

He suggested that Sanogo, 21, remind the people around him to behave responsibly. “As un-fun as it sounds,” the official said, “the best thing that you can do is just try to encourage others to act more responsibly and not put yourself in those kinds of situations. I’m very comfortable with what we’ve done on campus. I’m concerned about what happens from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m.”

This is an absolute stunner, and a horrible look for any league trying to start football. Especially with a rash of outbreaks across FBS football facilities already, there’s zero excuse for “welp, y’all are just gonna have to deal with it” as being a satisfactory answer to the students, which via in loco parentis are to be cared for by the universities the attend. The conferences have had over four months to prepare for this, and they still don’t have good answers. And college football shouldn’t be played until there are some.

The NBA and NHL have shown that securing players, coaches, and staff in a bubble can be successful. But they also pay those players, coaches, and staff with real dollars. Unless a league wants to pony up and pay for rosters of 100+ players (and 200+ people with staff, trainers, coaches, tutors, and administrators) to be isolated for about four months somewhere, the rash of outbreaks means playing college football is incredibly unsafe as of now.

“There aren’t any guarantees in life” isn’t a satisfactory answer to a player that provides free labor.

Expect this to be addressed at the NCAA’s Board of Governors meeting next Tuesday, which is the next big step towards everyone realizing that we probably shouldn’t play college football in 2020.