The Southeastern Conference will allow its member schools to sell alcohol at athletic events. The decision was approved during the SEC Spring Meetings in Sandestin, Fla. this week, according to a release from the conference.
Under the revised policy, each institution in the conference now has the right to determine the sale of alcoholic beverages in its athletics venues, subject to certain conference-wide alcohol management expectations.
It also requires any SEC institution choosing to permit alcohol sales at athletic events to establish policies governing the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages consistent with requirements established and agreed to by the Conference membership. In the past, SEC athletics programs have been prohibited from selling alcohol in public areas of SEC athletics venues.
Closer to home, UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity told media outlets this week that beer and wine will be sold in Sanford Stadium's premium seating area during the upcoming football season. UGA will limit the sales to Magill Society members, who must pledge at least $25,000 to the UGA Athletic Association.
The SEC says the revised policy is not to be construed as a requirement or expectation that SEC institutions will sell alcohol at athletic events. Each institution has the right to decide the rules and regulation of alcohol sales to the general public and to designate the locations where alcoholic beverages may be available, consistent with conference-wide alcohol management expectations, each university's policies, and state or local regulations governing alcohol sales and/or consumption.
The revised policy adopted by the presidents and chancellors requires institutions to implement a series of Conference-wide alcohol management procedures, including the establishment of designated stationary sales locations, a restriction prohibiting sales by vendors in seating areas, a limit on the number of alcoholic beverages purchased per transaction and designated times that sales must cease specific to each athletics event.
"We are proud of the great game-day atmospheres the SEC and our member schools have cultivated throughout our history, and no other conference rivals the SEC in terms of our ability to offer an intense yet family-friendly atmosphere for all of our fans," said University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides, current chair of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors. "This policy is intended to enhance the game-day experience at SEC athletics events by providing our schools the autonomy to make appropriate decisions for their respective campuses while also establishing expectations for responsible management of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages."
The adoption of the revised policy comes after a recommendation by a working group of campus leaders created at the May 2018 SEC Spring Meetings. The group was charged with a review of the existing Conference Game Management Policy governing the availability of alcoholic beverages at SEC athletics events and to identify a direction for consideration by the membership.
"Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our member universities in recent years," SEC Commissioner Greg Sanke said in the meeting. "As a Conference, we have been observant of trends in the sale and consumption of alcohol at collegiate sporting events and have drawn upon the experiences and insights of our member schools which have responsibly established limited alcohol sales within controlled spaces and premium seating areas. We remain the only conference to set forth league-wide standards for the responsible management of the sale of alcoholic beverages."
Any sales of alcoholic beverages in the public seating areas will be limited to beer and wine, and each institution that chooses to sell alcohol will be required to implement a server training program for staff.
"We are committed as a Conference to ensuring that all changes in policy are implemented in ways that respect and sustain the traditions that make the SEC game-day experience exceptional for all attendees," Sankey said.
The policy, which is effective August 1, 2019, does not impact suites, clubs or private leased areas in which the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages were previously permitted under existing SEC regulations.
Members of the SEC Working Group included Stuart Bell, President of the University of Alabama, Michael Sagas, Faculty Athletics Representative at the University of Florida; Hunter Yurachek, Director of Athletics at the University of Arkansas; Sarah Reesman, Senior Deputy Athletics Director at the University of Missouri; and Troy Lane, Chief of Police at the University of Tennessee.
SEC Game Management Policy on Alcohol (adopted May 31, 2019; effective August 1, 2019):
Each institution is permitted to determine the permissibility of selling alcoholic beverages in athletics venues and shall establish a policy governing the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages in its athletics facilities.
Institutions that offer alcohol sales in public areas must incorporate Conference-wide alcohol management expectations, which include:
-- Alcoholic beverages are to be sold and dispensed only at designated stationary locations;
-- Alcoholic beverages may not be sold by vendors within the seating areas;
-- Identification check is required at every point of sale to prevent sales to minors;
-- Alcoholic beverage sales are limited to beer and wine only (no hard liquor or mixed drinks may be sold in public seating areas);
-- Limits must be established on the number of drinks purchased at one time by an individual;
-- Alcohol must be dispensed into cups;
-- Safe server training and additional training for staff to handle high-risk situations is required; and
-- Designated stop times for sale and/or distribution of alcohol must be enforced as follows: Football (end of 3rd quarter); Basketball (Men's-Second half 12-minute TV timeout; Women's-End of 3rd quarter); Baseball (end of the top of 7th inning); Softball (end of the top of the 5th inning); and Other Sports (At a designated time, no later than when 75% of the event's regulation length competition is scheduled to be completed).
-- Each year, the Conference membership shall review this policy to determine institutional compliance with established expectations and evaluate fan conduct and alcohol-related incidents for the purpose of determining the need to revise the Conference's alcohol policy.
-- Implementation of these management expectations does not include suites, clubs or private leased areas.
-- Each institution shall establish a policy for the admission of outside food and beverage into its facilities.
-- As with all areas of the stadium, maintaining the safety of patrons and participants and maintaining an atmosphere suitable for families is of utmost importance.
-- Advertising displays mentioning or promoting alcoholic beverage shall not be permitted in any playing facility with the exception of common point-of-sale signage.