SEC Commissioner comments on student athletes, social issues in wake of national events

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HOOVER, Ala. - While folks in the south collectively, and perhaps, desperately, return their focus to football with the start of SEC Media Days, Commissioner Greg Sankey still took the time to comment on the recent national events.

"Our sharing in the sorrow at the loss of life that's been such a focus over the last week," he said. "That's done with the understanding that sports play a unifying role in society, but beyond that, the opportunity, the effort to change as individuals is also central."

Sankey noted that the conference constantly tries to empower student athletes to be more than just athletes. He encourages them to get involved in the social issues that they face.

"We're criticized for young people not being engaged on campus," he said, "yet there may be no better example of full and total engagement on campus issues than what happened last fall at Missouri."

In November, much of the Missouri student body participated in a week-long hunger strike following racially charged incidents on campus. To Sankey's disappointment, though, the strike also kept the football team off the practice field.

"My next observation is we don't want those types of things to happen in that manner," he said.

Sankey also had a message for the coaches and athletic directors at each of the 14 schools in the conference.

"Make sure you're in constant conversation," he said, "understanding what's on the hearts and minds, who's around them and how might we participate in meeting some of our cultural challenges."

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