Tennessee Vols offensive lineman Cade Mays was not allowed to travel with his team to Columbia on Friday for UT’s matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday night.
Mays couldn’t travel because he hasn’t been ruled as the SEC as an eligible player. He hasn’t been ruled ineligible yet, either (only players ruled eligible can travel).
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey danced around the topic earlier this week when asked about it during an interview with WJOX.
“People send in waivers, but one of the questions that should be asked is not what is the commissioner going to do; it’s why haven’t our members voted to change that rule?”, commented Sankey.
If Mays were to be granted immediate eligibility, it would be a first for a player within the SEC that hasn’t yet graduated. There’s obviously no precedent here.
But it’s not like Sankey is afraid to get involved in transfer waiver requests.
In 2016, Sankey approved a waiver so cornerback Maurice Smith could transfer from Alabama to Georgia and play immediately. The only difference was that Smith had already graduated from Alabama (in three years).
The fact that Smith graduated early was cited by Sankey is his decision (which was made in early August that year) to allow Smith to play immediately at Georgia.
“The standard for granting waivers has been clear and compelling evidence that there is reason for allowing an exception to SEC rules,” said Sankey in 2016.
Sankey could’ve easily pointed to the rule and told Georgia and Kirby Smart that instead of bringing a waiver request to him, they should focus on getting the rule changed (the SEC intraconference graduate transfer rule was eventually changed in 2018). You know, kind of like he publicly did with Tennessee this week.
Instead, Sankey listened to the request and made a decision in a timely manner.
Now, whether or not the Mays waiver is actually approved is another question. Based on the evidence we’ve seen publicly, I think he should be allowed to transfer (pandemic, parents’ lawsuit against Georgia, closer to home to play with brother, etc). But I recognize that we don’t have all the of the information relevant to his waiver.
It’s the fact that Sankey has essentially ghosted Tennessee and Mays that’s the big issue. Sankey not making a ruling before the first game of the year is just flat out commissioner malpractice.
The SEC commissioner had no problem making an exception to the rule in 2016.
But in 2020, he can’t even be bothered to address the waiver.
The SEC has big problems if this is how league business is going to be handled moving forward.
Featured image via Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports