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COVID-19 testing forces SEC to reschedule conference clash

The Southeastern Conference is just three weeks into its 10-game season, but the league now is dealing with the challenges of football during a pandemic.

Saturday's scheduled game that was to have Vanderbilt visiting Missouri has been rescheduled until Dec. 12 – the week before the SEC Championship game scheduled for the Mercedes Dome in Atlanta.

Vanderbilt nearly had to postpone, reschedule or otherwise seek to accommodate its game last Saturday at home against South Carolina, when the Commodores had more than 20 players out due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing, per a staff member involved in that contest.

In its statement, the SEC said “(this week's game) is postponed due to positive (COVID-19) tests and subsequent quarantine of individuals within the Vanderbilt football program. The action is consistent with the SEC COVID-19 management requirements. The game is tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12.”

The SEC in September issued its comprehensive, league-wide guidelines and protocols for roster management in the COVID-19 era and stipulated at that time a team must maintain 53 active scholarship players in order to conduct a game. The Commodores reportedly had just 56 scholarship players available for its subsequent 41-7 loss to the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks.

“While we share in the disappointment that this Saturday’s game will be postponed, our program is deeply appreciative of the tireless efforts put forth by student-athletes, university officials, conference administrators and medical experts who have risen to the challenge of helping us navigate these unprecedented circumstances,” said head coach Derek Mason. “The safety and well-being of our student-athletes will remain a top priority as we continue the season, and we look forward to returning to competition.”

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching news.