KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Southeastern Conference has announced a major change in its alcohol policy for sporting events that could impact Tennessee.

Up until now, the SEC has prohibited sales of alcohol at sporting events in public areas for its member schools.

Now each school will be able to determine if they want to sell alcohol at their individual athletic venues, starting August 1. Any sales of alcoholic beverages in the public seating areas would be limited to beer and wine and have a designated end time.

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The decision was made at the Conference’s 2019 Spring Meetings.

“Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our member universities in recent years,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “As a Conference, we have been observant of trends in the sale and consumption of alcohol at collegiate sporting events and have drawn upon the experiences and insights of our member schools which have responsibly established limited alcohol sales within controlled spaces and premium seating areas. We remain the only conference to set forth league-wide standards for the responsible management of the sale of alcoholic beverages.”

A UT spokesperson said university officials are in support of the SEC allowing the schools to determine the alcohol policy on individual campuses.

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"UT is evaluating the best course of action for our campus, including reviewing necessary procedures and processes, to determine if and when we would initiate the sale of alcoholic beverages at athletic events," according to a statement.

UT has already been evaluating alcohol procedures at Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena because of a new state law allowing sales at non-sporting events.

If the schools do decide to sell alcohol, they must abide by these SEC policies:

  • Alcohol can only be sold at designated locations
  • Alcohol cannot be sold by vendors in seating areas
  • Identification will be required before every sale
  • Sales are limited to beer and wine only
  • Alcohol must be dispensed in cups
  • Training qualifications must be met
  • Designated stop times must be observed:
    • Football - end of 3rd quarter
    • Men's Basketball - second half 12 minute TV timeout
    • Women's Basketball - end of 3rd quarter
    • Baseball - end of the top of the 5th inning
    • Other sports - at a designated time, no later than when 75% of the event's regulation competition is complete 

The policy does not impact suites, clubs or private leased areas in which the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages was previously permitted under existing SEC regulations.