Over the last few decades, it seems the Southeastern Conference had always been a little bit ahead of the other NCAA Power Five conferences in terms of athletic success.
But they always lagged behind the other major conferences in one area: alcohol sales during athletic events.
Now, that might be changing after the SEC voted at its spring meetings Friday to lift a conference-wide ban on the selling of alcoholic beverages in public areas of sporting events, ESPN reported.
It’s now up to each individual school to decide if it wants to sell beer and wine. If a school still wishes to abstain, it can.
The new policy will go into effect on Aug. 1, just in time for the college football season. More than 55 FBS programs do allow alcohol to be sold in their stadiums, according to Sports Illustrated, as selling beer and wine is a good way to generate extra revenue.
“Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our member universities in recent years,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement.
“As a conference, we have been observant of trends in the sale and consumption of alcohol at collegiate sporting events and have drawn upon the experiences and insights of our member schools which have responsibly established limited alcohol sales within controlled spaces and premium seating areas.”
Prior to the SEC’s vote Friday, alcohol was permitted to be sold in private suites, but not general-seating areas.
The SEC’s new policy comes with what ESPN referred to as “designated stop times, such as the end of the third quarter during football games and the second-half 12-minute TV timeout during men’s basketball games.”
The ban on alcohol sales had come something of a tradition in the SEC, seeing as how it’s been in effect since 1978, if not earlier, according to CBS Sports.
“When you lead the nation in attendance, you have those circumstances,” Sankey said. “You cherish that position and cherish those traditions and you proceed cautiously.”
“We are a conference that is walking away from decades of prohibiting this activity and we want to proceed carefully,” he added.
It’s not entirely clear which SEC schools will change their individual alcohol policies as a result of the vote, though Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger has been tracking the situation on Twitter.
An update: Who will start selling stadium-wide booze in 2019?
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) May 31, 2019
As Dellenger pointed out Friday, it’s not all that hard to gauge the SEC’s motives.
“Maybe not coincidentally, the SEC lifts a ban that dates to at least the 1970s after a year in which it drew 73,994 on average to home games, the lowest mark since 2002,” he wrote.
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