Virus Outbreak SEC College Basketball

Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, talks about the decision to cancel the remaining games in the SEC NCAA college basketball tournament Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The conference tournament was cancelled Thursday due to coronavirus concerns. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The SEC's league slogan is catchy, memorable and usually couldn't be more accurate.

"It Just Means More" is what fans of the conference are usually proclaiming this time of year with spring sports racing to the peak of their seasons.

Unfortunately, these days, those words couldn't be more insignificant.

The growing coronavirus pandemic has caused virtually every sport — pro, college and high school — to cease operations indefinitely, and the SEC has been no exception.

On Wednesday, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey held a media teleconference to make further announcements regarding the status of the league and to explain its decision making over the last week.

All spring football games canceled

Earlier this week, multiple SEC schools — including Florida — had yet to cancel spring football games despite the growing concern over the virus.

On Monday, the league announced the cancellation of all spring sports for the rest of the 2019-20 athletic year, effectively putting to bed any hope of spring football games being played.

"It does not apply to spring practices at this time," Sankey said. "If you look at the national public messaging about no gatherings above 50, (it is) certainly difficult to conduct any football practice under that limitation...We haven't fully foreclosed that opportunity, but I think practically that window's pretty narrow."

The decision to cancel all athletic events through April 15 included the dismissal of pro days as well, which will hurt the players who didn't participate in the NFL Combine.

Athletes like wide receiver Josh Hammond, linebacker David Reese II and offensive lineman Nick Buchanan will now miss out on chances to impress pro scouts and improve their draft stock.

But throughout this whole process, Sankey has reiterated the safety and well-being of student-athletes and everyone involved is most important during this time.

Sankey behind giving seniors extra year of eligibility

Because of the unforeseen circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak, many seniors played their last game without even knowing it.

Chances of a final postseason run were dashed, and the opportunity for proper recognition eliminated.

The NCAA has made it clear that it's working toward granting an extra year of eligibility to those playing spring sports, but nothing has been finalized as of yet.

"I'm certainly open to that," Sankey said, regarding giving extra eligibility to those affected. "From my perspective, we have to understand the full set of implications, and I hope we'll move through those rapidly because I think one of the assets for our young people is knowing definitively what their eligibility status will be going forward."

Spring sports weren't the only ones affected, however.

College basketball and gymnastics lost their respective postseasons as well. UF's women's basketball team was hoping for an NIT bid, the men's basketball team was likely going to its fourth NCAA Tournament in a row and the gymnastics team -- one of the best in the country -- was primed to make a run at a national championship.

In the blink of an eye, all of those opportunities are gone and closure will never come for athletes like Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Rachel Gowey.

"There does need to be a conversation about the disrupted winter sports, which, for us, would include both men's and women's basketball, swimming and diving, gymnastics, and equestrian," Sankey said. "I know that's an agenda item nationally, I don't have a prediction right now, just like with spring sports, but I'm certainly open to the conversation."

Fall sports, including football, still full speed ahead

The handling of the coronavirus is a fluid situation heading into the future, but as of now, the 2020-21 athletic year is still planned for the fall.

Despite the potential elimination of spring practice for football, teams should have the proper time to prepare for the 2020 season.

"If we're not able to practice further this spring, I'm confident that we'll be seeking opportunities to make sure our teams are adequately prepared heading into the season," Sankey said. "We're dealing with a lot of these undefined circumstances, but now in our mind is how do we help our teams adequately prepare in advance of the fall season."

Follow Evan on Twitter @evanmplepak and contact him at [email protected].

Evan Lepak is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida. Evan is the assistant sports editor and is currently covering UF men's basketball. He has been with the Alligator since Summer 2018.