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Update on UK’s 2 new SEC opponents and league’s COVID-19 testing plan

With college football (hopefully) starting later this month, we still don’t even know the Kentucky Wildcats’ full schedule yet.

A big reason why is because the SEC decided last week it will go with a 10-game, conference-only schedule that begins the week of Sept. 26th. While we already know eight of Kentucky’s SEC opponents next season, we’re still waiting to hear who the two new ones will be.

Well, it sounds like today is when we’ll learn who those two opponents will be, according to Mississippi State president Dr. Mark Keenum. He also revealed that the full 2020 SEC football schedule will be released next week.

It’s still unclear how the SEC is deciding who the two new opponents will be for each SEC school. Initially, it was believed that the two new games would simply be whoever the next two non-permanent cross-division foes would be. In the case of Kentucky, that would be LSU and Ole Miss.

However, it was later reported that the SEC could use each team’s strength of schedule to determine their two new opponents.

Whatever the case is, we should find out later today.

Kentucky Football 2020 Schedule (so far)

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In addition, the SEC has announced plans for coronavirus testing for fall sports. Members of the football team will receive PCR tests twice weekly from an independent third party organization, which will normally be six days and three days prior to competition.

There will also be a face-covering mandate in the SEC that requires all coaches, staff, and non-competing personnel to wear face-coverings on the sideline.

Here is a look at the SEC’s full plan for coronavirus testing and prevention for fall sports:

Testing

  • The SEC will coordinate centralized testing through a third-party provider to ensure consistency in surveillance and pre-competition testing. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the current standard testing method for the COVID-19 virus. Alternative testing methods may be considered if sufficient data develops to support those methods.
  • In the sport of football, student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least twice weekly during competition, typically six days and three days prior to competition. The Task Force recommends exploring alternative testing methods that will accommodate a third test, in addition to the two required PCR tests, that will provide for the reliability and rapid response necessary for diagnostic testing in a timeframe closer to competition.
  • In the sports of volleyball and soccer, student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least twice weekly during competition, with one to occur three days prior to the first competition of the week. The Task Force recommends exploring alternative testing methods that will accommodate a third test, in addition to the two required PCR tests, that will provide for the reliability and rapid response necessary for diagnostic testing in a timeframe closer to the first competition of the week.
  • In the sport of cross country, student-athletes and others in direct contact with the program will receive a PCR surveillance test at least once per week during competition, with that test to occur three days prior to each competition.

Masking

  • In football, volleyball and soccer, all coaches, staff and non-competing personnel will be required to wear face coverings on the sideline and physical distancing will be employed to the extent possible.
  • In cross country, competing student-athletes are required to wear a face covering at the starting line, which may be removed when proper distancing has been achieved. Coaches and staff associated with cross country competition are expected to utilize social distancing to the extent possible and will be required to wear a face covering during pre- and post-competition.

Other Notes

  • Each institution is required to designate a COVID-19 Protocol Oversight Officer who will be responsible for education and ensuring compliance with the SEC’s COVID-19 management requirements.
  • The SEC announced in July that student-athletes in all sports who elect to not participate in intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 academic semester because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.
  • The full SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Requirements for COVID-19 Management of Fall Sports can be found here.

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