The SEC voted during its spring meetings Friday to lift a ban on selling alcoholic beverages in public areas at its athletic events.
The conference's new policy, which opens another revenue stream for its member schools, goes into effect Aug. 1. But the policy does not require schools to sell alcoholic beverages, which will be limited to beer and wine, leaving the decision up to each institution.
"Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our member universities in recent years," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. "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."
Despite the conference's new policy, Alabama said in a statement it doesn't expect to begin immediately selling alcoholic beverages in public areas.
"This new policy allows each campus to decide what is right for them. These guidelines will be helpful as we move forward and have future conversations," the university's statement said. "We have one of the best game-day atmospheres in the country, and we don't envision making changes at this time."
Auburn president Steven Leath told Auburn Undercover that any future discussions on alcohol sales would include fans, the board of trustees and other stakeholders.
According to the SEC release, the new policy will require "the establishment of designated stationary sales locations, a restriction prohibiting sales by vendors in seating areas, a limit on the number of alcoholic beverages purchased per transaction and designated times that sales must cease specific to each athletics event."
The policy, which will limit individuals to purchasing one drink at a time, also comes with designated stop times, such as the end of the third quarter during football games and the second-half 12-minute TV timeout during men's basketball games. Women's basketball alcohol sales will end following the completion of the third quarter, baseball at the top of the seventh inning and softball at the top of the fifth.