Sankey is a modern-day administrator whose focus on innovation, communication, integrity and responsibility establishes a model for leadership in college sports today. Always with an eye on the future, Sankey is also keenly aware of the competitive and institutional traditions that make the SEC uniquely successful.
Sankey brings a big picture approach to his position by introducing 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.
He introduced his vision of "Scholars. Champions. Leaders." to describe the SEC's impact during his first major address as commissioner at the Conference's July 2015 Football Media Days.
"Educating scholars and supporting champions provides the platform for developing leaders who will influence the world," said Sankey, outlining a plan for magnifying the SEC's leadership in collegiate athletics.
ADVOCATING FOR STUDENT-ATHLETE OPPORTUNITY
Now in his third year at the helm 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 new leadership opportunities and resources to succeed at the highest levels of academic achievement and competitive success. New student-athlete focused initiatives under Sankey's leadership include:
- Creating a new position in the SEC office for a Director of Student-Athlete Engagement, while also offering student-athletes the opportunity to participate in Conference leadership and prepare for life after their intercollegiate athletics participation concludes. (August 2015)
- Introducing 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 additional opportunities to engage with campus leaders and Conference office staff. (May 2016)
- Introducing a Student-Athlete Career Tour during SEC Football Championship Week in Atlanta, which provided a group of student-athletes opportunities to engage in career exploration with high level corporations and businesses. (December 2016)
- Expanding the student-athlete role at the 2017 SEC Spring Meetings when seven student-athletes participated in a robust agenda of interaction with administrators and coaches to provide their perspectives to Conference leaders. (May 2017) ADVANCING THE CONFERENCE Upon assuming the role of commissioner, Sankey moved swiftly to address issues critical to college athletics on both the Conference and national levels.
- Appointed a Working Group on Student-Athlete Conduct, a collection of campus leaders established to develop recommendations for updated Conference policies governing behavioral expectations for student-athletes transferring to an SEC institution. The SEC's policy, adopted in 2016, served as a model for similar policies subsequently adopted by other conferences and institutions and also serves as a foundation for continuing dialogue in the SEC.
- 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 of adherence to SEC and NCAA rules, which were first developed in 2004.
Sankey set a priority to enhance Conference championship events for the purpose of providing student-athletes with life-long memories and exceptional experiences for fans, which has included:
- Establishing an agreement with Atlanta's new Mercedes Benz Stadium to serve as the long-term home for the SEC Football Championship Game. (September 2015)
- Awarding Greenville, SC, the 2017 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament, making it the first major collegiate sporting event to be announced in South Carolina following removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. (May 2016)
- Reaching agreement with the City of Hoover, AL, to continue its role as host of the SEC Baseball Tournament after the city committed to construction of a $70 million baseball campus to enhance the entire baseball tournament experience. (June 2016)
- Engaging with a security consulting firm to review and develop consistent and effective security plans for SEC Championship events. (August 2016) Sankey has continued 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:
- 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)
- Working with the American Athletic and Atlantic Sun conferences to create a men's basketball officiating consortium, later adding the Sun Belt Conference. (July 2016)
- Working with the NCAA to gain approval for a collaborative instant replay process in the sport of men's basketball beginning with the 2017-18 season. (May 2017)
- Hiring new coordinators of officials in the sports of men's basketball and softball.
Another priority under Sankey's leadership is to grow exposure for the Conference and effectively publicize success stories of the SEC. Measures he has taken include:
- Collaborating with Conference institutions and the SEC Network to create a series of 30-second video spots titled "I Am The SEC," which feature compelling off-the-field stories of SEC student-athletes in all sports that air during SEC Network events throughout the academic year.
- Engaging with The Richards Group, a highly successful national marketing agency, to develop a comprehensive branding campaign to positively feature the SEC, its student-athletes, alumni, leaders and fans. The theme of the campaign - "It Just Means More" - communicates the history, legacy and overall positive impact the SEC has on its region, the nation and the world.
- Introducing the SEC Graduate Patch, a logo placed on the uniforms of SEC student-athletes in every sport who have earned their undergraduate degree and are continuing their participation in intercollegiate athletics.
- Working 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, covering all spring football games and adding unique coverage of halftime band performances in football.
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, 53, 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 is active within the NCAA committee structure, which includes his current service as Chair of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions.
Prior to joining the SEC staff, Sankey was 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 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
2002-present Southeastern Conference
Associate Commissioner, 2002-2012
Executive Associate Commissioner/Chief Operating Officer, 2012-2015
National Championships Won by SEC Schools in Greg Sankey Era
Football - Alabama
Women's Swimming & Diving - Georgia
Equestrian - Auburn
Men's Outdoor Track & Field - Florida
Women's Outdoor Track & Field - Arkansas
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
Updated June 28, 2017