The 2020 Sports Officiating NASO Summit, which will be held July 26-28 in Montgomery, Ala., will feature a bit of a wrinkle compared to recent NASO Summits.

There will still be a grand opening for all Summit attendees the evening of Sunday, July 26, but rather than serving as a mere appetizer for the session-heavy schedule of the next two days, it will feature some extra meat on the bone.

The actual first session of the 2020 Summit will take place that night when, following opening remarks and introductions, Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), addresses attendees. The title of the session is, “Why Officiating Matters More Than Ever,” during which Sankey will offer his perspective on the key role officiating plays in organized sports at all levels, not just the Power 5 conferences. Sankey will share his thoughts on the demands being made of officials, their ability to fulfill those demands, the requirements of accountability and the need for more open communication about officiating.

The idea for the opening-night session derived from communication between Sankey and NASO President Barry Mano on the heels of the former’s remarks in an SEC press release about conference football officiating. Mano used his Publisher’s Memo in the January 2020 edition of Referee magazine to briefly highlight four main themes from Sankey’s message and their respective responsibilities.

Ongoing communication between the two gave way to the idea for the opening-night session in Montgomery.

“We are especially looking forward to opening the 2020 Summit with remarks from Commissioner Sankey,” Mano said. “I’ve known Greg for some years and he has long struck me as a person who understands, globally and at a granular level, the important contribution sports officials make to competitive athletics. His words will resonate with our audience.”

Other confirmed speakers for 2020 Summit sessions include Penny Davis, NCAA national coordinator for women’s basketball officiating; Dr. Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the NFHS; Bob Delaney, former NBA official and chair of the NASO board of directors; Mark Jones, director of officials for the Alabama High School Athletic Association; Dr. Megan Buning, associate professor at Augusta University; and Pat Adams, NCAA Division I men’s basketball official.

In addition to panel sessions, annual staples like the Officiating Industry Luncheon, Game Changers and Working Lunch Breakouts will be included in Summit activities.