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Ray Tanner: 'A return to normal will not happen this fall'

Gamecock athletics director writes in part "A return to normal will not happen this fall. We are trying to determine what the new 'normal' will be."

COLUMBIA, S.C. — COVID-19 is back in the news with spikes in cases in the South. Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner has ended his work week with a detailed letter to the Gamecock fan base concerning the pandemic and what sports in the fall and beyond will look like.

Part of Tanner's letter is sure to resonate - "A return to normal will not happen this fall. We are trying to determine what the new 'normal' will be."

The complete letter from Tanner is below.

"A sport's season is long, with many opportunities and challenges arising, and pivotal decisions that need to be made along the way.

One of the great things about a sport season is that you learn about yourself and your teammates and the results can define a team.

On June 25, 2010, we were at that point in a long season that decisions needed to be made if our baseball team would be able to continue to a National Championship.

We had come out of the loser's bracket and needed to beat Clemson twice to keep our season going. We had taxed many of our pitchers and were contemplating who to use as our next starter. Post-season baseball can do that.

We turned to a junior left-hander that had not started all year – Michael Roth. He knew what he had to do. Our team knew what it had to do. And I knew what I had to do. The rest, as they say, is history.

We are at a pivotal point in our athletics department history now.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit a lot of businesses hard. Higher education and college athletics are no exception.  

We know what was lost in the spring semester. We do not really know what we could lose in the fall semester, but we are working through the various scenarios. A return to normal will not happen this fall. We are trying to determine what the new "normal" will be.

You have likely seen reports from other Power 5 schools around the country on what they are doing to make ends meet, from salary cuts to furloughs and budget reductions. We have discussed all of those options and more in our athletics department.

You may have already seen that Coach Muschamp, Coach Staley, Coach Martin and I have taken voluntary salary reductions. Late last week, it was announced that many of our staff will be required to take furloughs this year, ranging between 2-4 weeks. The Coronavirus will dictate if we must do more. That is one of the challenges.

At this point, we do not know what the 2020 football season will look like. Our goal is to communicate the plan for the season in early August. We want to be able to gather as much information as possible, working with the SEC office and the member institutions before any decisions are made.

These are challenging, and, yes, agonizing times. As a coach and administrator, my vow is to provide student-athletes with the resources to compete at the highest level, whether it be in their sports, in the classroom, in the community, or in life.

As your Athletics Director, I am taking part in regular meetings with President Caslen and campus planning groups as well as Commissioner Sankey and the Southeastern Conference ADs. These groups have the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans are the most important pieces of the puzzle. We all want to get you the best and most accurate information as soon as we can as we move forward with challenging and difficult decisions.

I will never give up pursuing what our program needs to adequately represent the student-athletes, coaches and staff, fans, and the University with class, dignity, and victory. Be safe and healthy this summer and do your part in stopping the spread of this virus, including social distancing and wearing your Gamecock-branded face coverings.

Forever To Thee,

Coach Tanner