SANDESTIN, Fla. (WATE) – The Southeastern Conference announced Friday a revised policy that will allow each school in the conference to determine whether alcoholic drinks can be sold in athletics venues.

Schools will not be required to sell alcohol at its games, but each institution will be able to decide the permissibility of alcohol sales and where it will be sold, according to conference-wide alcohol management expectations.

Schools must implement a series of conference-wide alcohol management prodecures, including establishing designated stationary sales locations, a restriction prohibiting sales by vendors in seating areas, a limit on the number of alcoholic drinks purchased per transaction and designated times alcohol sales must cease.

Only beer and wine would be able to be sold in public seating areas and each institution that sells alcohol must implement a server training program for staff.

“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.”

The policy begins August 1 and does not affect suites, clubs or private leased areas were alcohol was already allowed.

The University of Tennessee says it is evaluating the best course of action to determine if and when they will start selling alcohol at athletic events. The state legislature passed a law earlier this year that would allow college sports venues to sell alcohol at events such as concerts that were not campus sports events.

Here’s what we know about UT’s current rules on booze on campus: 

  • Current students, undergraduate and graduate, no matter their age, cannot be served alcohol 
  • Enrolled students, even those above 21, can even be disciplined for being under the influence of alcohol on campus property 
  • Alcohol is permitted for certain events where alumni, donors and other special guests are allowed to be served
  • Students present at those events where alcohol is served are to be identified and servers should be made aware of policy

If UT were to implement beer and/or wine sales, it would be a challenge to pinpoint students in a crowd of more than one hundred thousand people. 

The conversation about alcohol on campus starting earlier this year with State Se. Becky Duncan Massey. She championed a bill, that’s now law, allowing alcohol sales at public college sports facilities. Massey, aware of the SEC restriction at that time, said the measure was about concerns and special events. 

She said in February she thought the change would “even the playing field” for Knoxville by helping recruit bigger names to Neyland Stadium and Thompson Boling Arena. She said she learned many artists or booking agencies often look at part of the alcohol proceeds as an incentive to come.