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

About Commissioner Greg Sankey

1130 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 has successfully built upon the SEC's recognized success, strong foundations and rich traditions.

Sankey has effectively introduced change and innovation 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 reputation for a greater overall cultural and economic impact on the region, the nation and the world.

Sankey has built upon the foundation set in his first major address as the conference leader in 2015 when he stated, "Educating scholars and supporting champions provides the platform for developing leaders who will influence the world." His relentless focus on providing resources for student-athlete success continues to make the Southeastern Conference a leader in college athletics.


LEADERSHIP IN A CHALLENGING ENVIRONMENT

As the NCAA has sought to navigate a changing landscape for college athletics, it called on Sankey to co-chair its Division I Transformation Committee, a body of college sports leaders tasked with addressing the most significant challenges in college athletics, to support student-athletes more effectively, and even reimagine the future of college sports.

Sankey's recognized abilities made him an appropriate leader for this critical endeavor to modernize and transform Division I college sports, and it cast him at the forefront of myriad issues facing college athletics leaders today.

But it is not the first time Sankey has stepped forward at a crucial time for college sports. Sankey's leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic served the SEC well as the league prepared for a return to action in the fall of 2020. Sankey fostered a culture of collaboration among the leaders of the Conference in order to allow the SEC's 14 schools to move together in lockstep through difficult and unprecedented decisions.

And while the pandemic had a devastating effect on the finances of college athletics programs across the country, Sankey kept focus on the long-term financial vitality of the SEC. In 2020, Sankey and his team finalized a milestone 10-year agreement with the Walt Disney Company that grants ABC and ESPN exclusive broadcast rights to premier SEC football and basketball events beginning in 2024-25 and continuing through 2033-34.

Less than a year after the blockbuster agreement with Disney, the SEC made news again as Sankey ushered the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas through membership discussions and announced the two leading universities will join as members with the SEC's nationally prominent member institutions.

ADVOCATING FOR STUDENT-ATHLETE OPPORTUNITY

Throughout his career, 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. Student-athlete focused initiatives introduced under Sankey's leadership include:

  • Creation of a leadership position in the SEC office for Student-Athlete Engagement, a role focused on offering student-athletes the opportunity to participate in Conference leadership.
  • Introduction of Student-Athlete Leadership Councils for Football, Men's Basketball and Women's Basketball which provide student-athletes with enhanced opportunities to engage with campus leaders and Conference office staff.
  • Introduction of a Student-Athlete Career Tour which provides groups of student-athletes with opportunities to engage in career exploration with high level corporations and businesses in major metropolitan areas.
  • 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.

ADVANCING THE CONFERENCE

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

  • Development of updated Conference policies governing conduct expectations for student-athletes, including the adoption of a serious misconduct policy governing transfers that has served as a model for similar policies adopted by other conferences. The policy was later expanded to include all incoming prospective student-athletes.
  • Creation of the SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice, a league-wide body consisting of a diverse group of student-athletes, administrators, coaches and SEC staff. The Council identifies resources, outlines strategies and assists with implementation of efforts that promote racial equity and social justice, fosters diversity and helps overcome racism and pursues non-discrimination in intercollegiate athletics.
  • Crafting a new SEC bylaw aimed at encouraging, facilitating and assisting member institutions in attracting and hiring individuals in historically underrepresented groups in leadership positions of their athletics programs.

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:

  • 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.
  • Engagement with a national marketing agency to develop and maintain 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.
  • Introduction of the SEC Graduate Patch, a logo placed on the uniforms in every sport to provide recognition of SEC student-athletes who have earned their undergraduate degree and are continuing their participation in intercollegiate athletics.

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, 58, 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.

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, as well as coach of the Demons' golf team. 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 her husband, Rod) 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

2019-20
Football - LSU
Women's Cross Country - Arkansas

2020-21
Football - Alabama
Women's Indoor Track & Field - Arkansas
Equestrian - Georgia
Volleyball - Kentucky
Rifle - Kentucky
Men's Tennis - Florida
Women's Golf - Ole Miss
Men's Outdoor Track & Field - LSU
Baseball - Mississippi State

2021-22
Football - Georgia
Women's Indoor Track & Field - Florida
Rifle - Kentucky
Women's Basketball - South Carolina
Men's Outdoor Track & Field - Florida
Women's Outdoor Track & Field - Florida
Baseball - Ole Miss