Staying a Slive

HOOVER, Ala. -- In many ways, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is the polar opposite of his predecessor. Roy Kramer was a forceful presence, one who realized the revenue potential of creating a conference championship game and went out and made it happen.

For better or worse, Kramer was the architect of the BCS. He negotiated big money television deals and secured the conference a nationally broadcast game each week on CBS. That's quite a legacy, one Slive hasn't really tried to rise to in his six years on the job. Wednesday, he addressed the media on how his efforts to maintain the conference's success are going.

Where Slive has looked to make an impact is in curbing the excesses of the SEC's members during the Kramer years. He set a public goal of having no conference members on probation in 2008 five years ago, and came up just short. Other than the Arkansas track program, the SEC is out of the NCAA's jail.

"The most satisfying accomplishment in my six years as commissioner is that we have tackled the infraction problems head on, while at the same time arguably enjoying the most sustained competitive athletic success in the history of this conference."

Slive has his biggest opportunity yet to take a bold step in the near future. The SEC's television rights are up for bid, and there a number of intriguing possibilities to ponder. Should the conference create its own television channel, the way the Big Ten and Mountain West have? Would it be better to maintain existing partnerships, only for more money? Could an outsider like Fox take the featured weekly national game away from CBS? How can the conference achieve better coverage of its sports, especially basketball?

Slive had no firm answers to those questions during his address, but did set a timetable for when the news will come.

"We will make a final decision this fall", said Slive. "A full year before the existing contracts expire, giving us a year to implement the new agreements in whichever direction we decide to go."

Areas Slive says the conference will focus on as they make their decision include maximizing revenue, improving national distribution of other sports than football, opportunities to promote SEC academics, and ways to enhance the SEC brand name.

Slive addressed other issues, including the SEC's recently amended bylaw which allows for the possibility of non-qualifiers being admitted to SEC schools should they have a 2.0 GPA and receive the commissioner's approval. The aspiring athlete would not be eligible for financial aid or to participate in team activities, making this rule change unlikely to have a major impact. Slive also touched on the SEC's recent failed attempt to push for a "plus one" model in the BCS, saying the proposal is "a marathon, not a sprint."

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