Ole Miss fans cheer on the Rebels as they take on the Auburn Tigers on Saturday in Oxford.

OXFORD Ole Miss fans will be able to purchase beer at athletic events beginning in October, the school announced on Friday.

The move comes after a period of contemplation following a change in the alcohol policy of the Southeastern Conference at the SEC’s spring meeting in late May. Conference presidents voted then to allow individual schools to make their own decisions regarding alcohol sales.

Many have already announced plans that include the sale of beer and wine.

Southern Mississippi, a Conference USA member, announced its intention to sell beer and wine at football games less than two weeks ago.

The current Ole Miss policy addresses the sale of beer, imported and domestic, and “spiked seltzers.” Sales will begin for the Oct. 19 football game against Texas A&M and will carry into basketball and baseball seasons.

Sparking debate

“The university has been deliberate in our approach to making this change,” Ole Miss Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks said in a news release. “We have assessed the relevant issues and focused on an implementation timetable that works best for our university. Maintaining the safety of our patrons and participants and maintaining an atmosphere suitable for families is of utmost importance. We appreciate the support and patience of our fans as we implement this change.”

Sale of beer will require a valid ID and will be limited to two units at one time per each ID. For football, sales will begin when the gates open and will end at the conclusion of the third quarter.

Ole Miss becomes the seventh SEC school to announce the sale of alcohol.

Getting to this point for state schools required approval of the Institutions of Higher Learning board. Schools received a memo from the board in the summer that allowed them to move forward.

The school says the decision to set an Oct. 19 launch date allows time to promote responsible behavior, address staffing, consider the implications of the decision and to take a look at results from other schools who begin sales sooner.

Ole Miss officials hope inside sales will reduce “binge drinking” before games and the unauthorized carrying of alcohol inside venues.

“This sales plan should lead to more responsible consumption and reduce negative behavior in the stands,” University Police chief Ray Hawkins said.

Twitter: @parrishalford

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