BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (September 3, 2020) - The Southeastern Conference has implemented a new voter education and participation program by which all 14 of its member universities are supporting engagement of SEC student‐athletes, coaches and staff in the November general election and in other local, state and federal elections, it was announced Thursday by SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.
The non-partisan program is an outcome of discussions among SEC student-athletes, presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics and senior woman administrators, some of whom serve on the SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice, and it provides needed flexibility for athletics departments to determine how they activate the program now and in the future.
"Voting is an important way to fulfill one's civic duty in America," Sankey said. "The SEC Voter Education and Participation Program focuses on creating an opportunity for our universities to help our student-athletes, coaches and staff understand and participate in the election process."
As described below, the SEC Voter Education and Participation Program highlights a range of approaches for athletics department engagement, and additional local efforts, as well as Conference-wide activities, may be added later to augment this basic foundation.
Among the areas of engagement identified is education on the importance of voting, regardless of one's political position, and voter apathy. In response, every SEC athletics department will provide educational sessions, resources and access to campus or community experts for student-athletes, coaches and staff.
In addition, and recognizing individuals must first become registered voters to participate in the process, every institution is providing information about registration deadlines and necessary documentation to student-athletes as it applies to their home states, along with some also organizing or offering their facilities for campus and community voter registration drives. Out-of-state student-athletes are also being supplied with information related to absentee and vote‐by‐mail opportunities.
Recognizing the NCAA Division I Council is poised to consider a Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee recommendation to designate the first Tuesday after November 1 of each year as a mandatory off day from countable athletically related activities for Division I student-athletes, SEC administrators have engaged in ongoing dialogue regarding athletics activities on November 3.
The SEC Voter Education and Participation Program also aims to celebrate voters and connect athletics departments with university-wide civic engagement initiatives, including those designed to bring clarity to the interplay between local, state and federal governments.