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Editor who wrote KKK editorial says he sold his paper. One of the new owners has Klan ties

The March 28 front page of The Democrat-Reporter.
Chip Brownlee

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The Alabama newspaper publisher who called for a return of the Ku Klux Klan has apparently sold his newspaper to a man with possible ties to the KKK.

C.T. Harless — one of the paper’s two new co-owners, according to a front-page story in the March 28 issue of The Democrat-Reporter — has apparent ties to the American White Knights, a KKK-aligned group based out of Tennessee.

In a phone interview Thursday, Goodloe Sutton, the longtime editor-publisher of the small newspaper in Linden, Alabama, told the Alabama Political Reporter that he sold his newspaper to “C.T. Harless” and “Sabrina McMahan.” The story that appeared on the front page of the newspaper Thursday said the same.

Over the course of the next several days, however, as I dug through records, chased down leads and conducted numerous phone interviews with “C.T.” and his alleged brother “Chuck” — who apparently also goes by “C.T.” — what seemed to be the simple sale of a troubled newspaper to new owners morphed into a strange story.

There were big lies, phony names, an ever-shifting story and lots of threats.

It all started with a tip and a simple question: Are you Chuck Harless, the imperial wizard of the American White Knights of the KKK?

The answer would not be so simple.

C.T. Harless’s legal name, according to arrest records, mugshots and other public records APR found, is Charles Tyler Harless. On social media and in public records, he has used a variety of names — Charles, Ty, Chuck and, as of last week, Chris.

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Over the course of several conversations, his story changed, though he has continued to deny association with the Klan. He shifted from knowing nothing about the allegations to relegating his Klan connections to a brother.

And, once confronted with additional information, he changed his story again to outright deny owning the newspaper at all, despite the story on The Democrat-Reporter’s front page and the staff box on the paper’s second page.

He deleted social media accounts, changed his voicemail messages, later disconnected his phone number, threatened lawsuits and had someone claiming to be his brother call me.

The Sale

In our first phone interview Thursday, C.T. Harless initially confirmed he bought the paper from Sutton. He said his only goal was to bring back a community newspaper focused on covering community issues.

“I monitor Facebook, and sometimes things come to your attention that you want to do something about,” Harless said. “I had seen where Mr. Sutton had written several, we will call them less-than-stellar, editorials.”

APR has not been able to independently verify the sale of the newspaper, though both Sutton and Harless said it was sold as of last week. The news comes after the Associated Press reported on March 21 that a deal to sell the paper was underway.

No paperwork registering the formal sale or transfer of The Democrat-Reporter had been filed with the Marengo County Probate Court or the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office as of Monday evening.

The story published on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter on March 28 announcing the purchase of the paper by Sabrina McMahan and C.T. Harless.

The sale reported on the front page of the paper comes after weeks of national coverage surrounding Sutton’s editorial, which I first uncovered. The paper’s sale to a man apparently connected to the Klan is another remarkable turn of events.

Sutton published that editorial on Feb. 14 entitled “Klan needs to ride again.” In it, he called for the Klan to “raid the gated communities” of Democrats and “Democrats in the Republican Party” who are “plotting to raise taxes in Alabama.”

In late February, he briefly turned over editorial control of the paper to an African-American woman, Elecia Dexter, but after continued interference, she quit on March 17, leaving 80-year-old Sutton with the paper again.

In a phone conversation, Sutton would not provide any details about why he sold the paper to Harless and McMahan.

‘No, I’m C.T. Harless’

I first learned of the paper’s reported sale on Thursday after following the story for weeks since I first tweeted a photo of The Democrat-Reporter editorial in February.

A formal sale would have been a big development.

C.T. Harless and Sabrina McMahan as they appear in a photo on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter.

I called Sutton on Thursday at The Democrat-Reporter office in Linden. He told me it was his last day at the paper — he’d sold it, a task he’d been trying to accomplish for years since the newspaper began losing advertising, its subscribers, its printing presses and its former offices over the last decade.

Sutton said he sold the paper to “C.T. Harless” and “Sabrina McMahan,” two people from out of the state. Harless would run the day-to-day operations as publisher, and McMahan would handle marketing and distribution, according to the story on the front page of the paper.

When Harless first called me back that evening, he was congenial. We spoke about his plans for the paper, his goals and a little about his background.

“What people in America are missing today is information and reporting about their hometown and their community,” Harless said. “I watched the newspaper and did a lot of research. At one time, when his father owned it, it was a very stellar publication.”

He told me he was from a small town in Indiana — Mooresville, just outside of Indianapolis — and that he’d joined the military. He worked in the timeshare business, had most recently lived in Key West, Florida, and would be moving to Tuscaloosa to run the newspaper, he told me.

At the end of our conversation, I asked him about the tip I received — that he was connected to the Klan.

“No, I’m C.T. Harless from Key West, Florida,” he said with a slight laugh.

I didn’t have anything else to go on at that point, so we ended the conversation there. He later called back, and in a quick conversation, he again denied being involved with the Klan. This time he was angry.

He asked me who sent the tip and said that his lawyers would be involved. He attempted to place blame on the former editor of The Democrat-Reporter, Elecia Dexter, alleging she was the one who was saying he was in the KKK.

That was untrue. I did not get the tip from Dexter.

He told me his name was “Christopher Thomas Harless,” and that he wasn’t in the Klan. We ended the conversation again, but my suspicions remained. That night, I began digging again.

I plugged the phone number he used to call me into Google.

Harless’s number was also used to register the domain for a website of the American White Knights, the Tennessee-based KKK group. The website’s registration email is also listed as [email protected]

We found Facebook pages for a “Ty Harless” with pictures of a person who looked just like the Harless on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter.

Posts from the page of “Ty Harless.” The page was deleted over the weekend after the conversations with Harless. We blurred the face of a child in the bottom right photo.

 

That page was deleted after we confronted Harless about it, but we have screenshots. Statuses on the page said things like “Good morning to all members of the American White Knights,” and in another status, he said he was the “imperial wizard” of the American White Knights.

A “Sabrina Vaughn” is also mentioned on the “Ty Harless” Facebook page.

When I first attempted to call Harless back Friday morning after making those discoveries on Thursday, his phone went to voicemail. The voice message on the line said the phone belonged to Chuck Harless, the same name used in the email address registered to the American White Knights domain and the same name listed in several newspaper articles about the American White Knights.

That voicemail has since been changed — twice. Once to “C.T. Harless” and later to “The Democrat-Reporter.”

That cell phone number he was using was disconnected on Monday.

The Chuck Harless name has appeared in numerous newspaper articles, and it’s the name he used when he spoke to Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes in 2014.

We found no public records matching a “Christopher Thomas Harless” of the same age in Tennessee or Florida.

The story changes

When I finally reached him Friday and confronted him with what I’d found, he told me he bought the phone number from a flea market eight months ago. I asked him about the voicemail saying Chuck Harless, and he hung up.

I called back a short time later.

“I am going to contact my attorney,” Harless told me. “I don’t know what you guys are trying to pull; however, I am going to contact my legal counsel this morning.”

He surprisingly stayed on the line, and his story changed again as we continued to talk.

Harless told me he wasn’t actually the owner of the paper. Instead, he said, it was owned by a limited liability corporation that he was employed by. Then he threatened to tell the LLC about my questioning regarding his identity and association with the Klan.

“I’m sure they’ll be pleased to contact you,” Harless said. “No, I do not [own it].”

He continued to deny association with the Klan, questioning the methods I used to contact him.

He wanted to know why I called Sutton instead of emailing the paper’s new email address or contacting him through the number listed on the front page of the paper. In reality, he was the one who called me after I left a message with Sutton at the paper’s office.

His story about the ownership of the paper continued to change, conflicting with what was printed on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter and conflicting with what he had initially told me in previous phone calls.

“The LLC that owns the newspaper — I do not know anything about them,” Harless said. “But they contacted me and asked me to do the advertising for the newspaper, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. There’s another lady involved, Sabrina McMahan, who actually, if you want to know the letter of the law, actually 100 percent owns the newspaper. Okay?”

He said she was 29-years-old and knew “absolutely nothing” about newspapers or advertising, so she (or the LLC, he was never clear) brought him on.

“What I am saying is that Sabrina McMahan is the owner of The Democrat-Reporter. All I’m doing is working with her as an employee, basically, to acquire some advertising for her and to help her get the circulation back up to where it was,” he said. “Once that’s done and over with, my employment with them will be terminated.”

That story conflicts with what was printed on the front page of the newspaper and what is listed on the staff box on the second page, which says he is the editor-publisher. It also conflicts with Harless’s initial account on Thursday, when he told me he bought the paper.

When asked why the article in the newspaper said he was a co-owner, Harless said it was a marketing maneuver.

“Well, because that’s what they wanted it to say,” Harless said. “I don’t have the credit to buy a new car, how do you think for a minute that I would have the financial ability to buy a newspaper for $75,000? … They wanted to bill it as a co-ownership because of the difference in age of the actual owner and myself.”

We weren’t able to confirm who formally owns the newspaper without official documentation, which both McMahan, who contacted us by text message, and Harless have refused to provide. McMahan said she officially bought the whole newspaper on Friday.

‘I’ll get the KKK to call you’

While he initially denied any association with the Klan, Harless’ story continued to evolve.

During our phone conversation Friday morning, he changed his story about where he got his phone number and his connection to the Klan. He told me that he has a brother, a “Chuck Tyler Harless,” who is the imperial wizard of the American White Knights.

“Here’s the truth — sucks for my brother. My name is Christopher Thomas. This was my brother’s phone for a while,” Harless said. “Like I told you, he sold it to me at a yard sale. … I bought it from him. I’ve been using it, and I have not bothered to change the voicemail because usually, I catch all the calls that come through here.”

Then he said he would have “his brother” call me.

“If you would like for Chuck to call you, then I will give him your phone number today,” Harless said with a laugh. “If you want to talk to an idiot about the Ku Klux Klan, alright, then you talk to Chuck,” Harless said, referencing the Chuck Harless name used in connection with the grand wizard of the American White Knights.

“I will give him your phone number, and I am sure, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he will call you and tell you everything you want to hear,” Harless said. “After I get through talking to Chuck this morning, he’s going to be very less than polite to you.”

His threatening tone continued.

“I can’t wait to talk to Chuck this morning,” Harless said. “I’m going to tell him, ‘Little young Chip wishes to talk to the Ku Klux Klan.'”

As the conversation continued, he said he was present at his brother’s house when “Chuck” registered the American White Knights domain along with another individual, Randy Musgrove, whose name also appears on the domain registration.

Harless said no one in Linden was concerned about the real identity of the new owners of the newspaper.

“For you to sit here and tell me that the residents of Linden are concerned about who owns the newspaper, you’re a f—ing liar,” he said. “You’re talking out of both sides of your face here.”

Harless continued his threats.


A portion of my phone conversation with Harless.


“If I do not receive an apology phone call from you today, guess what next week’s article is going to be on in the newspaper?” Harless said. “You and your harassment. … When it goes into print and it talks about the harassment of a competitor’s newspaper, I can at least get you some fame and notoriety.”

He said he wouldn’t as long as I called and apologized.

‘My name is C.T. Harless — Chuck Harless’

About 15 minutes after I hung up with Harless on the phone Friday, I got a call from someone who said he was his brother.

“My name is C.T. Harless — Chuck Harless,” the man said, apparently stumbling between C.T. Harless and Chuck Harless. “I’m the one that’s in the Klan.”

He said his name was Chuck Tyler Harless. I asked why he said he was C.T. Harless if that was the nickname his brother used. Apparently they were as confused as I was.

“His is Chris Thomas Harless. He’s named after our grandfather,” the man said. He said he gave him the phone a month or two ago after an aunt died. “The phone is mine — in my name and everything, and the website is all mine. I’m the bad guy of it.”

Of course, only part of that adds up to what The Democrat-Reporter Harless told me earlier in the day.


My conversation with the man who said he was C.T. Harless’s brother, Chuck.


And, the man’s voice — the man claiming to be C.T.’s brother “Chuck” — was noticeably different from the voice of the man who appeared as “Chuck Harless,” imperial wizard of the American White Knights, on the Alan Colmes show on Fox News Talk Radio in 2015. Their tone, speech patterns and inflection were markedly different.


Watch the latest video at foxnews.com

Chuck Harless’s appearance on Fox News Radio with Alan Colmes.


I’m not sure who called me Friday claiming to be “Chuck” but it wasn’t the same Chuck from the KKK who appeared on Colmes’ show.

The reality is that the answer to this whole confusing family tree appears to be a lot simpler.

C.T. Harless has a Facebook page, which I found Monday, and on the page, he is friends with his brother, Bradley Todd Harless, from Mooresville, who appears to have no connection to the Klan. A search of Charles Tyler Harless and the brother’s name yielded the obituary of their late mother, published by an Indiana funeral home in Indianapolis just miles from Mooresville — the location matching up perfectly with Democrat-Reporter Harless’s origin story.

In that obituary, Charles Tyler Harless is listed as only having that one brother of the same last name. The rest of the siblings are sisters, which also matched up with Harless’s account during our phone conversation.

The wife of Charles Tyler Harless, according to the mother’s 2017 obituary? “Sabrina.”

We also found arrest records in Mississippi, Indiana and North Carolina for Charles Tyler Harless with mugshots matching the photos of the Harless published on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter last week.

(Left) The photo published on the front page of The Democrat-Reporter. (Right) Mugshots found under the name Charles Tyler Harless in Mississippi.

Continued denials

When I tried to reach Harless again Monday after taking the weekend to do more research, I reached a dead line on the phone we used to contact one another Thursday and Friday of last week.

It was disconnected.

I tried calling The Democrat-Reporter’s newsroom, where I left a message for Harless with someone working the phone. About 15 minutes later, I got a text message.

“I am relaying a message Mr. Harless does not wish to receive any further calls from you if this persists he will file harassment charges he said do not call our office again,” the text read.

We kept trying to give Harless an opportunity to comment on our report.

Josh Moon, another reporter at APR who has helped with this story, attempted to contact them, too.

In text messages between Moon and a woman who said she was McMahan, McMahan claimed that Harless was a contract employee and that she did not look into his background before hiring him.

She said she would sue if this story was published.

“Run the f—ing story I will see your a– in court,” she said.

APR investigative reporter Josh Moon contributed to this report.

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Health

New COVID cases in Alabama increasing faster than 46 other states

Chip Brownlee

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Alabama reported more cases of COVID-19 last week than any other week since the pandemic began, and the increase in new cases reported last week compared to the previous week was higher than 46 other states and the District of Columbia.

An analysis of data collected by The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the pandemic, shows that only West Virginia, Maine and South Carolina reported a larger increase in new cases last week compared to the new cases they reported in the previous week.

According to The COVID Tracking Project’s data, Alabama recorded 2,556 new cases during the week ending Sunday, May 24, compared to 1,994 new cases during the previous week ending Sunday, May 17.  That’s an increase of 28 percent.

The Alabama Department of Public Health’s daily case totals show an increase of 17 percent last week over the previous week, which is still higher than 38 other states, according to the analysis performed on The COVID Tracking Project’s data.

COVID Tracking Project has a standardized method of capturing each state’s new cases from health departments, making it possible to compare the trajectories of each state. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia saw new cases decline last week, while 25 states saw new cases increase last week compared to the previous week.

Compared to other states, testing showed no similar increase. The number of new tests reported in Alabama last week only grew 2 percent compared to the previous week, according to the COVID Tracking Project’s data. That’s lower than 31 other states.

APR‘s data showed an increase of 13 percent over the previous week, but that is still a smaller increase than 25 other states. Both our data and an analysis of The COVIDTracking Project’s data show the percent of total tests that are positive rose last week compared to the previous week.

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The Alabama Department of Public Health does not provide historical data for how many tests were performed on each day. Both APR and the COVID Tracking Project calculate test increases by tracking the change to the cumulative total of tests performed.

Several other Southern states also saw rising cases and no similar increase to tests performed. In Mississippi, new cases rose by 9 percent last week compared to the previous week while tests per week fell by 21 percent. In Tennessee, new cases rose 15 percent while tests per week declined 8 percent.

Georgia saw new cases rise 21 percent, but tests also rose by 22 percent. Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina also reported both rising cases and more tests compared to the previous week.

Cases have been rising in Alabama since the beginning of the month. Testing has also increased, and public health officials, including State Health Officer Dr. Harris, have said they are not sure if the increase in cases is directly attributable to more tests or more disease.

Some areas of the state, like Madison County and Lee County, have seen little or no rise in new cases, while others, like Montgomery County and Tuscaloosa County, are experiencing worsening outbreaks.

Gov. Kay Ivey lifted the state’s stay-at-home order on April 30 and has since relaxed restrictions twice more, saying the economics of the pandemic must be addressed. The state reported an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent last week, higher than during any point during the Great Recession.

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National

Monday is Memorial Day

Brandon Moseley

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Today, the last Monday in May, is the day we set aside to remember all of the many soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have died defending this country in this nation’s many wars over the last 245 years.

Memorial Day is a state and national holiday. There will be no mail service and banks, courthouses, and many government buildings, as well as many offices and businesses, will be closed today.

Many people have the day off and are spending the holiday with family and friends.

A number of Alabama leaders have released statements paying their respects to America’s fallen heroes.

“Memorial Day is a time for all of us to pause and remember the courageous Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this great nation,” said Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery). “Everyone should take this opportunity to honor and reflect on those men and women in uniform who lost their lives fighting to protect the freedoms we enjoy. “

“I realize that Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer. However, I hope you will take time to remember what the holiday is truly about,” said Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville). “Veterans Day in November is about honoring all veterans, but Memorial Day is specifically for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and died for our country.”

“On Memorial Day and every day, it’s important to remember and honor the sacrifice made by the members of our military – those who gave their lives in service to our country, the veterans who are still with us today and those who have passed, and the brave men and women who are currently wearing the uniform,” Rep. Roby said. “I extend my sincere condolences to those who lost a family member in the line of duty and my gratitude to those who served or are currently serving. America continues to shine as the Land of the Free, even in the midst of a global pandemic, because of the heroic men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country’s future and prosperity.”

“It’s great that we’re able to be out of our homes this Memorial Day,” said Second District Congressional District candidate Barry Moore. “Hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill are incredible, but as good as they are we don’t need to forget what this day is about. Memorial Day is our special day to honor those who have given their all in the service to our great nation, and May–Military Appreciation Month–is the month dedicated to letting our Veterans and serving military personnel know that we appreciate them and their service. As a Veteran from a family with a strong and proud history of service, and a new father-in-law to an Army Ranger 1st Lieutenant, this day and month have special meaning to me.”

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“I’m thankful we have a President whose example we can follow in honoring our fallen,” former State Rep. Moore continued. “In February, when President Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base and saluted the coffins of Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez and Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez when they returned home, he showed the reverence and respect these two young men were due. This Memorial Day we all need to be equally diligent in showing that respect for those who have borne the battle. Take time today to think about what this day means, and if you get the chance during the rest of this month, tell a Vet or serviceman or woman that you’re thankful for them. God Bless our troops and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

“Together, our nation pays immortal tribute to the extraordinary courage, unflinching loyalty, and unselfish love, and supreme devotion of the American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said President Donald J. Trump (R) on Thursday. “It’s the ultimate sacrifice, and it is indeed. They laid down their lives to ensure the survival of American freedom. Their names are etched forever into the hearts of our people and the memory of our nation. And some of you, it’s been very close — very, very close. It’s very close to your heart. We’ll cherish them and our Gold Star families for all time. We take good care of them. They’re very special to us. Just as we’ll always remember the nearly 82,000 Americans missing in action.”

Here is a video that Aderholt and his team put together a few years ago to honor the fallen from Alabama’s 4th District.

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National

SEC clears path for member schools to resume athletics training on June 8

Brandon Moseley

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The Southeastern Conference announced on Friday, that voluntary in-person athletics activities may resume on Southeastern Conference campuses, at the discretion of each university, beginning June 8 under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.

The coronavirus crisis ended Spring sports such as baseball and softball and cost both men and women’s basketball teams most of their post-season play. Spring football camps were eliminated. No training has been allowed in on-campus athletics facilities since March 12. The SEC had suspended all athletics activities through May 31.

June 8 will begin a transition period that will allow student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after this recent period of inactivity. Each university has been instructed to develop plans that are consistent with state and local health directives. Under the new directive, certain activities will be permitted based on the ability to participate in controlled and safe environments, while also maintaining recommended social distancing measures.

The decision to resume athletics activities, which at this time is limited by the NCAA to voluntary activities supervised by strength and conditioning personnel, was made with the guidance of the Conference’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.

The task force was created by the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors in April and is comprised of a cross-section of leading public health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from across the SEC’s 14 member institutions. The Task Force will remain active to provide continued advice and guidance to the SEC and its members as they prepare for a return to competition.

“The safe and healthy return of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and our greater university communities have been and will continue to serve as our guiding principle as we navigate this complex and constantly-evolving situation,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “At this time, we are preparing to begin the fall sports season as currently scheduled, and this limited resumption of voluntary athletic activities on June 8 is an important initial step in that process. Thanks to the blueprint established by our Task Force and the dedicated efforts of our universities and their athletics programs, we will be able to provide our student-athletes with far better health and wellness education, medical and psychological care and supervision than they would otherwise receive on their own while off campus or training at public facilities as states continue to reopen.”

As part of its recommendations, the Task Force prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining cleaned environments. These recommendations are to serve as a roadmap for each school prior to and upon the return of student-athletes to their campuses.

“While each institution will make its own decisions in creating defined plans to safely return student-athletes to activity, it is essential to employ a collaborative approach that involves input from public health officials, coaches, sports medicine staff, sports performance personnel and student-athletes,” Sankey said. “Elements of the Task Force recommendations provided key guidance for determining the date of the return to activity.”

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The protocols include a three stage screening process that involves screening before student-athletes arrive on campus, within 72 hours of entering athletics facilities and on a daily basis upon resumption of athletics activities.

Testing of symptomatic team members (including all student-athletes, coaches, team support and other appropriate individuals) is part of the protocols.

It is recommended that schools immediately isolate team members who are under investigation or diagnosed with COVID-19. This is to be followed by contact tracing, following CDC and local public health guidelines.

Since most of the athletes have not been allowed to do anything but the most basic of workouts, there is to be a transition period that allows student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sport activity following the long period of inactivity.

During the month of June, NCAA regulations permit only strength and conditioning personnel to supervise voluntary on-campus athletics activities in the sports of football and men’s & women’s basketball. A current waiver that permits eight hours of virtual film review has been extended through June 30 for football and basketball.

Consistent with NCAA regulations, organized practices and other required physical activities remain prohibited in all sports. A previously announced suspension of in-person camps and coaches clinics conducted by SEC institutions remains in effect until July 31.

Many SEC schools hope to play their football seasons this fall on schedule. While football fall camps don’t begin until early August, coaches says that student-athletes need to be improving their strength, speed, and agility to get in the appropriate physical condition so that they can compete in fall camps. Without that strength and conditioning, coaches feel that more players could get injured in those practices.

On Thursday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) issued a new Safer at Home order that allowed schools to begin using their athletics facilities for strength and conditioning. Schools and educational institutions will be allowed to open subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines on June 1. Gyms across the state were allowed to reopen subject to social distancing and occupancy limits on May 24.

The relaxation of the health rules mean that the athletes will be able to compete in football seasons resume. It is still not known if there will be fans in the stands for those games, though University of Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne recently said that that is the school’s plan. Both the University of Alabama and Auburn University are members of the Southeastern Conference.

Fox Sports reported on Friday that if the 2020 football season was not played, the members of the ‘power five’ conferences (including the SEC), would lose over $5 billion in revenue. The cost cutting moves necessary to balance budgets after that hit would end virtually all non-revenue generating sports, including every women’s sport, on campus. Athletics budgets were already hit from the loss of NCAA basketball tournament revenue.

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Economy

Talladega will hold GEICO 500 on June 21 without fans in the stands

Brandon Moseley

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The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has announced that the GEICO 500, MoneyLion 300 and General Tire 200 automobile races have all been rescheduled for the weekend of June 20 to 21.

They will be raced without fans in attendance.

“We are excited that NASCAR has announced the rescheduling of our April race weekend to June 20-21,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “While we will have cars on track, in the interest of the health and safety of all involved, including fans, NASCAR will be running our three races – the GEICO 500, MoneyLion 300 and General Tire 200 – without fans in attendance in accordance with the State of Alabama, CDC and public health agency standards and protocols.”

The Cup Series GEICO 500 will be held on Sunday, June at 2:00 pm CST.

The Xfinity series MoneyLion 300 will be held on Saturday, June 20 at 4:30 pm CST.

The ARCA series General Tire 200 will be held on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 1:00 pm CST.

“NASCAR, like Talladega Superspeedway, prides itself in being fan-friendly, and the fans drive everything we do,” Crichton said. “The decision to race without fans is focused on the long-term health of you and our sport. NASCAR has a great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition, and after thorough collaboration with public officials, medical experts and state and federal officials, NASCAR has implemented a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of the competitors and surrounding communities.”

“For our June 20-21 events, we hope you will enjoy watching and listening to the 3- and 4-wide racing at the sport’s Biggest and Most Competitive track via our broadcast partners FOX, FS1 and MRN Radio,” Crichton concluded. “We will persevere through this together.”

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Motorsports are the only major pro sports league that has resumed play after the coronavirus global pandemic struck in mid-March. The NBA is considering a proposal to playout the remainder of their season and playoffs sequestered at the Wide World of Sports complex at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida with no fans present. The NHL is in the process of considering a similar proposal to finish this year’s hockey season. Major League Baseball has not played a single game of their season yet. MLB owners have made a proposal that the league play an 80 game season without fans present. The idea is meeting with skepticism from MLB players due to a controversial proposal capping players salaries for this season in a 50:50 revenue sharing agreement. The proposal that would dramatically reduce MLB players’ salaries for this season. Horse racing and mixed martial arts have held some sporting events in recent weeks.

NASCAR has already held two races at Darlington and one at Charlotte after resuming racing on May 17. Kevin Harvik won the Real Heroes 400 driving a Ford and Denny Hamlin won the Toyota 500 driving a Toyota in the first two Cup Series races since NASCAR resumed racing after a ten week hiatus. NASCAR intends to run a 36 race season this year.

Motorsports are the only major professional sports league played at a major league level in the state of Alabama. In addition to the Talladega Superspeedway, the state is also home to the Barber Motorsports Parks near Leeds. The Barber facility hosts both professional motorcycle racing and the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, a NTT Indycar series event. That event was cancelled due to efforts to shut down the economy to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has already killed 98,705 Americans through Sunday morning.

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