The Southern Conference has announced a number of cost containment measures to address the financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The moves were approved by the Southern Conference Council of Presidents and athletic directors. All measures are designed for the 2020-21 seasons and will be reevaluated at the end of the academic year 

“The Southern Conference continues to be served well by its tight geographic footprint, both in terms of reducing travel time for student-athletes and reducing costs for member institutions, something increasingly important in these challenging times,” said Mercer President Bill Underwood, Council of Presidents chairman. “I believe that these strategies will further enhance the cost effectiveness of SoCon membership while continuing to ensure high quality experiences for our student-athletes.

The measures include:

• Reducing the number of teams qualifying for conference championships to the top four teams in the regular season in the sports of men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, softball and baseball.

• Scaling back on conference championship expenses.

• Reducing conference three-game baseball series from three days to two.

• Reducing the men’s and women’s golf championships from three days to two.

• Adjusting in-person coaches’ meetings and the conference’s fall meetings to virtual events.

• Adjusting in-person football and basketball media days to virtual events.

• Identifying other potential savings concepts that each institution can implement at its preference.

Additionally, the conference office will reduce staff travel to regular-season contests and conventions and professional development seminars. Conference staff has been reduced, and salaries will be frozen.

“In order to address the significant financial shortfalls created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the league’s presidents and ADs approved a cost savings plan for the 2020-21 athletic year that will assist with these challenges,” Conference Commissioner Jim Schaus said. “These are not easy decisions to make but are necessary given the unprecedented circumstances. I applaud our conference leadership in being proactive and strategic in addressing this issue.

“As we move forward, we cannot predict the future status of the virus,” Schaus added. “However, we will continue to make health and safety a priority and follow all necessary guidelines. Moreover, we certainly can and will revisit our policies as needed. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this process.”