The Times They Are A-Changin’.
In his first state of the union as the Southeastern Conference’s new commissioner, Greg Sankey quoted Bob Dylan and delivered a forward-thinking, aspirational address Monday at the 2015 SEC Media Days.
Sankey, who officially succeeded Mike Slive on June 1, promoted a culture of “scholars, champions and leaders” defining the future of the SEC.
“Scholars first, champions second,” he said in a speech focused on off-the-field accomplishments.
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He noted the first-year success of the SEC Network (70 million subscribers), plugged his Twitter account (@GregSankey), stressed a league of compliance and took a shot at Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany over freshmen eligibility.
“Our goal is to never return a championship, never pull down a championship banner, never vacate wins and never have any team banned from postseason play due to NCAA infractions,” Sankey said.
He highlighted notable SEC professional athletes who had returned to school to earn a degree and also praised the leadership at South Carolina, Mississippi State and Ole Miss denouncing the Confederate flag.
The league’s best days “are still ahead,” he said. “We cannot accept even one step back.”
Jim McElwain, Florida’s first-year coach, has focused on upgrading the team’s facilities and infrastructure during his initial months on the job, and he delivered some notable news on the school’s biggest project yet.
Construction on Florida’s $17 million indoor practice facility is currently ahead of schedule. The project, initially projected for completion in September, should be available during training camp.
“It was long needed,” McElwain said. “It’s a beautiful facility. It sounds like we’ll at least be able to get a permit to go ahead and spend a couple hours in there as we go through two-a-days this fall.”
McElwain also said the refurbished athletic dorms will be ready by the fall. The Gators have a number of other projects on the docket, namely renovating and expanding the academic center.
UF INJURY UPDATES
All-SEC linebacker Antonio Morrison has been named to a number of preseason watch lists, but the senior’s status for the fall remains clouded.
Morrison injured his knee in the Birmingham Bowl, and McElwain, who has declined to specify the severity of the injury, said Morrison would be non-contact when UF opens camp Aug. 6.
Meanwhile, offensive lineman Trip Thurman (shoulder), tight end Jake McGee (leg) and defensive end Bryan Cox (hip surgery) will be ready for the fall after missing spring practice. Thurman’s health is key, as the redshirt senior is the only offensive lineman on the roster with a career start in the Football Bowl Subdivision.