Picture this potential scenario in the Southeastern Conference this fall: On Sept. 30 in Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn takes down undefeated, No. 1–ranked, two-time reigning national champion Georgia. Tigers fans celebrate their first victory over the rival Bulldogs since 2017 by storming the field.
And in response, the SEC moves Auburn’s next home game against Georgia, in 2025, to Athens. The Tigers would play the Bulldogs between the hedges three straight seasons, 2024 to ’26. That would be the price for storming the field.
Sound like a draconian penalty for something that has been part of the fabric of college sports for decades? Well, it’s on the table as a possible sanction as the SEC searches for a stronger deterrent to field storming than six-figure fines.
A conference working group on event safety was appointed by commissioner Greg Sankey last November—less than three weeks after Tennessee fans tore down the goalposts following a victory over Alabama and just a day before LSU fans flooded the Tiger Stadium field to revel in an upset of the Crimson Tide. The working group, headed by Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, Georgia AD Josh Brooks and Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart, has been gathering input and weighing options for several months.
Proposals for a new policy to deal with fans rushing the field or court are expected to be presented to the league’s full roster of athletic directors soon for discussion. From there, options for a revamped policy are likely to be advanced to the conference’s presidents and chancellors at SEC spring meetings May 30 to June 2 in Destin, Fla. Approved changes could be implemented for the 2023–24 athletic year.
The premise of losing a future SEC home game is just one of the policy changes that has been discussed by the working group. An even more drastic one—forfeiture of the game in which the field storm occurred—is unlikely to gain much traction. But there is general agreement that something more needs to be done beyond hitting schools in their fat wallets.