Hundreds of Southeastern Conference baseball parents sent a letter Thursday to commissioner Greg Sankey asking the league to arrange a full schedule next spring in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The parents, who represented players from 13 SEC programs, requested a schedule with conference, non-conference and postseason games, including the NCAA tournament, according to a copy of the letter sent to The Advocate.
“We recognize that every decision we make has consequences,” the letter read. “The consequence of eliminating, or even limiting the upcoming season, in our belief, would be far more detrimental to these players than the impact of this virus.”
Parents of LSU baseball players organized the letter, which spread to almost the entire conference. Every parent of an LSU baseball player signed the document, including Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, the father of LSU junior Drew Bianco. Only Georgia didn’t have a parent sign the letter.
“We believe the environment now adhered to is safe for our players,” the letter read.
The parents wanted Sankey to understand their stance as the conference makes decisions on spring sports. In the letter, the parents recognized the severity of COVID-19, a disease that has killed 228,439 Americans as of Thursday evening, but they argued the effect of the virus on college-aged players and the outdoor nature of baseball should allow a full season.
The SEC has played fall sports with an altered, conference-only schedule. It let baseball teams practice, but they couldn’t participate in typical fall exhibition games against other schools.
“Baseball is an outdoor, non-contact sport that provides a less significant threat of the virus spreading to players, coaches and fans of the sport,” the letter read. “The greatest risks of contraction occur off the playing field. We agree that the off-field limitations implemented by our coaching staffs, as well as institutional precautions, are effectively minimizing the risks to our baseball players.”
The coronavirus pandemic initially affected college baseball perhaps more than any other sport. Leagues canceled their seasons and the NCAA cut all spring championships, including the College World Series, in the early days of the pandemic. LSU's season ended after 17 games.
This fall, LSU implemented a coronavirus policy manual similar to major league baseball protocols. It prohibited high-fives and spitting. The team also changed the configuration of its locker room to separate pitchers and position players. Coaches wear face coverings at practice.
Still, LSU had to delay the start of fall practice 10 days because the majority of its players were quarantined for coronavirus exposure. The team began practices Sept. 30. It hasn’t stopped since. LSU will end the fall session next week with the annual Purple-Gold World Series.