The Southeastern Conference closed its spring meetings by lifting its ban on alcohol sales on campus venues during sporting events. Instead, it'll be up to the schools, although with restrictions.
The measure goes in effect on August 1, and was passed by the league's 14 members, and announced by commissioner Greg Sankey on Friday afternoon.
"Schools will have autonomy," Sankey said during the press conference in Destin, Fla. "This now an opportunity for institutions to make responsible and appropriate decisions [about alcohol]."
For now, Alabama isn't making any changes.
It issues the following statement: "This new policy allows each campus to decide what is right for them. These guidelines will be helpful as we move forward and have future conversations. We have one of the best game-day atmospheres in the country, and we don't envision making changes at this time."
Schools that will have in-stadium alcohol sales will be limited to beer and wine. Alcohol had already been permitted in suites, clubs and private leased areas.
The new league policy requires institutions to implement a series of Conference-wide alcohol management procedures, including the establishment of designated stationary sales locations, a restriction prohibiting sales by vendors in seating areas, a limit on the number of alcoholic beverages purchased per transaction and designated times that sales must cease specific to each athletics event.
"We are proud of the great game-day atmospheres the SEC and our member schools have cultivated throughout our history, and no other conference rivals the SEC in terms of our ability to offer an intense yet family-friendly atmosphere for all of our fans," said South Carolina president Harris Pastides, chair of the SEC presidents and chancellors, in a release. "This policy is intended to enhance the game-day experience at SEC athletics events by providing our schools the autonomy to make appropriate decisions for their respective campuses while also establishing expectations for responsible management of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages."
The adoption of the revised policy came after a recommendation by a working group of campus leaders created a year ago. It included: Stuart Bell, President of the University of Alabama, Michael Sagas, Faculty Athletics Representative at the University of Florida; Hunter Yurachek, Director of Athletics at the University of Arkansas; Sarah Reesman, Senior Deputy Athletics Director at the University of Missouri; and Troy Lane, Chief of Police at the University of Tennessee.
"Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our member universities in recent years," Sankey said. "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. We remain the only conference to set forth league-wide standards for the responsible management of the sale of alcoholic beverages."
SEC Game Management Policy on Alcohol
(Adopted May 31, 2019; effective August 1, 2019):
Each institution is permitted to determine the permissibility of selling alcoholic beverages in athletics venues and shall establish a policy governing the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages in its athletics facilities.
Institutions that offer alcohol sales in public areas must incorporate Conference-wide alcohol management expectations, which include:
- Alcoholic beverages are to be sold and dispensed only at designated stationary locations;
- Alcoholic beverages may not be sold by vendors within the seating areas;
- Identification check is required at every point of sale to prevent sales to minors;
- Alcoholic beverage sales are limited to beer and wine only (no hard liquor or mixed drinks may be sold in public seating areas);
- Limits must be established on the number of drinks purchased at one time by an individual;
- Alcohol must be dispensed into cups;
- Safe server training and additional training for staff to handle high risk situations is required; and
- Designated stop times for sale and/or distribution of alcohol must be enforced as follows: Football (end of 3rd quarter); Basketball (Men's-Second half 12-minute TV timeout; Women's-End of 3rd quarter); Baseball (end of the top of 7th inning); Softball (end of the top of the 5th inning); and Other Sports (At a designated time, no later than when 75% of the event's regulation length competition is scheduled to be completed).
Each year, the Conference membership shall review this policy to determine institutional compliance with established expectations and evaluate fan conduct and alcohol-related incidents for the purpose of determining the need to revise the Conference's alcohol policy.
Implementation of these management expectations does not include suites, clubs or private leased areas.
Each institution shall establish a policy for the admission of outside food and beverage into its facilities.
As with all areas of the stadium, maintaining the safety of patrons and participants and maintaining an atmosphere suitable for families is of utmost importance.
Advertising displays mentioning or promoting alcoholic beverage shall not be permitted in any playing facility with the exception of common point-of-sale signage.