The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

About Commissioner Greg Sankey

53 days ago
Photo: SEC Staff

GREG SANKEY
Commissioner
Southeastern Conference

Greg Sankey became the eighth Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference on June 1, 2015, and immediately embarked on a journey to build upon the SEC's recognized success, strong foundations and rich traditions.

Sankey has successfully introduced change and advancement for the conference while respecting the institutional traditions that make the SEC unique. With an understanding of the highly competitive environment of college sports, he has fostered the collaborative culture of the SEC that sets the conference apart and supports its continuing success.

Sankey brings a big picture approach to his position through continuing focus on a vision that positions the SEC to leverage its athletics success and popularity for a greater overall cultural and economic impact on the region, the nation and the world.

Based upon conference-wide success and growth, the SEC was the only college conference named a finalist for the Sports Business Journal's League of the Year Award in 2017-18, a nomination shared with the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), Ladies' Professional Golf Association (LPGA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).

During his first major address as Commissioner, he introduced his concept of "Scholars. Champions. Leaders." to describe the ultimate potential of the SEC. "Educating scholars and supporting champions provides the platform for developing leaders who will influence the world," Sankey said in his opening remarks at SEC Football Media Days in 2015.

ADVOCATING FOR STUDENT-ATHLETE OPPORTUNITY

Now in his fifth year as Commissioner of the SEC, Sankey has established himself as an advocate for the student-athlete, creating a framework to provide young people in the Conference with challenging leadership opportunities and expanded resources to succeed at the highest levels of academic and competitive success. New student-athlete focused initiatives under Sankey's leadership include:

  • Creation of a new position in the SEC office for a Director of Student-Athlete Engagement, a role focused on offering student-athletes the opportunity to participate in Conference leadership and prepare for life after their intercollegiate athletics participation concludes. (August 2015)
  • Introduction of Student-Athlete Leadership Councils for Football, Men's Basketball and Women's Basketball which, in addition to the Conference's longstanding Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, provide student-athletes with enhanced opportunities to engage with campus leaders and Conference office staff. (May 2016)
  • Introduction of a Student-Athlete Career Tour during SEC Football Championship Week in Atlanta, which annually provides a group of student-athletes with opportunities to engage in career exploration with high level corporations and businesses. (December 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Expansion of the student-athlete role at the annual SEC Spring Meetings when student-athlete leaders participate in a robust agenda of interaction with administrators and coaches to provide their perspectives to Conference leaders. (May 2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Increased funding for the SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Post-Graduate Scholarship, established in 1986 to honor outstanding student-athletes in the SEC for their accomplishments in athletics and academics. The value of the post-graduate scholarships increased to $20,000 each for the two winners and $10,000 each for the 26 finalists. (December 2017)

ADVANCING THE CONFERENCE

Sankey has been intentional and diligent in addressing issues critical to college athletics, with an emphasis on integrity, ethics and sportsmanship:

  • Appointed a Working Group on Student-Athlete Conduct to develop recommendations for updated Conference policies governing conduct expectations for student-athletes. As a result, the SEC adopted a serious misconduct policy governing transfers that has served as a model for similar policies subsequently adopted by other conferences and institutions (June 2016, expanded definition June 2017), and later expanded the policy to include all incoming prospective student-athletes. (June 2018)
  • Appointed a Working Group on Compliance, Enforcement and Governance, designed to review and update principles which form the foundation of the Conference membership's commitment to SEC and NCAA rules compliance.
  • Amended an SEC Bylaw to now require a university president or chancellor to consult directly with the SEC Commissioner before hiring someone "who has engaged in unethical conduct as defined under NCAA Bylaws or who has participated in activity that resulted, or may result, in a Level I, Level II, or major infraction." (June 2017)
  • Appointed a Task Force on Sports Gambling to identify issues and solutions with the goal of working with other leaders in sports, both on the collegiate and professional level, as well as governmental leaders, to educate student-athletes on issues related to sports wagering and ensure the integrity of athletics events. (July 2018)

Sankey prioritized the enhancement of Conference championship events to meet the goal of providing student-athletes with life-long memories and exceptional experiences for fans, which has included:

  • An agreement with Atlanta's new Mercedes Benz Stadium to serve as the long-term home for the SEC Football Championship Game. (September 2015)
  • An agreement with the City of Hoover, AL, to continue as host of the SEC Baseball Tournament after the city committed to construction of a $70 million baseball campus to enhance the baseball tournament experience for student-athletes and fans. (June 2016)
  • Engagement with a security consulting firm to review and develop consistent and effective security plans for SEC Championship events. (August 2016)
  • A three-year agreement with Greenville, SC, to provide a multi-year home for the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. (May 2018)

Sankey has focused resources on the development of Conference officiating with a series of measures blending technology with effective leadership to create greater accuracy and consistency for officiating in all sports, including:

  • Hiring new coordinators of officials in the sports of men's basketball, women's basketball and softball.
  • Working with the NCAA to gain approval for a collaborative instant replay process in the sport of football, which was implemented successfully beginning with the Fall 2016 season. (May 2016)
  • Collaborating with the American Athletic and Atlantic Sun conferences to create a men's basketball officiating consortium, later adding the Sun Belt Conference. (July 2016, May 2017)
  • Securing NCAA approval to implement a collaborative instant replay process in the sport of men's basketball beginning with the 2017-18 season. (May 2017)
  • Engaging in a consulting agreement with Bob Delaney, an accomplished former NBA official and executive with extensive experience in leadership training, to assume the role of Special Advisor for Officiating Development and Performance. (August 2018)
  • Working with the NCAA to expand the number of permissible plays evaluated through video replay in the sport of baseball for the 2018 season (August 2017), and implementing the first centralized replay system in the sport the following year. (March 2019)
  • Commissioning Deloitte's Advisory practice to conduct a comprehensive analysis to identify best practices and program standards for the SEC Football Officiating Program. (January 2019)

Another priority under Sankey's leadership is growing exposure for the Conference and effectively publicizing success stories of the SEC. Strategies pursued to achieve this objective include:

  • Engagement with The Richards Group, a renowned national marketing agency, to develop a comprehensive branding campaign. The theme - "It Just Means More" - communicates the history, legacy and overall positive impact the SEC has on its region, the nation and the world. (January 2016)
  • Introduction of the SEC Graduate Patch, a logo placed on the uniforms of every sport displayed by SEC student-athletes who have earned their undergraduate degree and are continuing their participation in intercollegiate athletics. (October 2016)
  • Ongoing collaboration with the SEC Network to create unique exposure opportunities for Conference universities, teams and student-athletes, including behind-the-scenes programming, expanding live championship coverage for Olympic Sports and other unique programming.
  • An agreement with SiriusXM to create the first college branded satellite radio channel, SiriusXM SEC Radio, an exclusive 24/7 audio channel dedicated to SEC sports. (November 2017)
  • Move of SEC Football Media Days to a new market, taking the signature event to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta while adding a fan event in Centennial Olympic Park to expand the kickoff week to five days of activities. (July 2018)

A CAREER IN COLLEGE ATHLETICS

On March 12, 2015, the Presidents and Chancellors of the SEC announced Greg Sankey would succeed Mike Slive as Commissioner of the SEC.

Sankey, 55, first joined the SEC staff in 2002 as Associate Commissioner for Governance, Enforcement and Compliance and later added supervision of the league's championships staff to his responsibilities. He was elevated to Executive Associate Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer for the league office in 2012, becoming responsible for the day-to-day operation of the SEC Office.

Sankey has been active within the NCAA committee structure. He has served on the Division I Legislative Council, the Committee on Academic Performance and the NCAA Committee on Infractions, and most recently served on the Enforcement/Infractions Working Group created to address recommendations from the independent Commission on College Basketball.

Before moving to the SEC, Sankey served as Commissioner of the Southland Conference for nearly seven years. He joined the Southland Conference staff in 1992 where he served as both assistant and associate commissioner before he was named its Commissioner in 1996 at the age of 31.

Prior to his term at the Southland Conference, he was Director of Compliance and Academic Services at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA. While at Northwestern State, Sankey also coached the Demons' golf teams for two years, earning the Golf Coaches Association of America District VI Coach of the Year award in 1991. Before his tenure at Northwestern State, he was the Director of Intramural Sports at Utica College in upstate New York.

A native of Auburn, NY, Sankey earned his master's degree from Syracuse University and his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland. Sankey and his wife, Cathy, reside in Birmingham, AL, and have two adult daughters, Hannah and Moriah.

THE SANKEY FILE

1987-89 Utica College, Director of Intramural Sports
1989-91 Northwestern State University
    Director of Compliance & Academic Services, 1990-92
    Head Golf Coach, 1990-92
1992-2001 Southland Conference
    Assistant Commissioner, 1992-94
    Associate Commissioner, 1994-96
    Commissioner, 1996-2002
2002-present Southeastern Conference
    Associate Commissioner, 2002-2012
    Executive Associate Commissioner/Chief Operating Officer, 2012-2015
    Commissioner, 2015-present

National Championships Won by SEC Schools in Greg Sankey Era

2015-16
Football - Alabama
Women's Swimming & Diving - Georgia
Equestrian - Auburn
Men's Outdoor Track & Field - Florida
Women's Outdoor Track & Field - Arkansas

2016-17
Men's Indoor Track & Field - Texas A&M
Women's Basketball - South Carolina
Equestrian - Texas A&M
Women's Tennis - Florida
Men's Outdoor Track & Field - Florida
Baseball - Florida

2017-18
Football - Alabama
Women's Indoor Track & Field - Georgia
Men's Indoor Track & Field - Florida
Equestrian - Auburn
Men's Outdoor Track & Field - Georgia

2018-19
Women's Indoor Track & Field - Arkansas
Men's Outdoor Track & Field - Florida
Equestrian - Auburn
Women's Outdoor Track & Field - Arkansas
Baseball - Vanderbilt

Updated June 27, 2019