Taylor's Thoughts: Growth is good

While many would argue that the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Big 12 and various power conferences in nation are the best, the Southeastern Conference held its own last season.

While many would argue that the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Big 12 and various power conferences in nation are the best, the Southeastern Conference held its own last season.

Make no mistake about it. The SEC is one to the top conferences in the nation. The quality of teams, coaches and teams give the league an edge when it comes to competition and regional interest.

A year ago, the league had six of its member institutions win a national championship, while six more finished as runners-up in 10 of 20 sports.

Even more impressive was the quality of play in the conference. In all national championship sporting events sponsored by the NCAA, 159 teams participated, meaning that two-thirds of teams of any type and sporting event were in the postseason last year.

While the teams were doing their job providing the hardware, the fans filled the seats and stands. The SEC led all conferences in national attendance. In all home games hosted by member schools, the SEC drew 5.6 million fans at various venues throughout the conference.

The biggest draw of all sports was football, which averaged 75,000 fans and filled up conference stadiums 97 percent of the time. Kentucky has little trouble leaving vacant spaces at Commonwealth Stadium, while other programs have similar success.

The revenue brought in last season totaled $124 million, a record in the SEC.

Football was the top revenue sport, while men's basketball was second. A big reason for the increase in interest in the league has been because of a growth spurt in women's basketball and baseball, especially at Kentucky.

Success brings wins and victories generate interest. Mickie DeMoss has interest in women's basketball at an all-time high, while John Cohen has Kentucky followers thinking baseball for a change. The volleyball team is on the rise, while the Wildcats' cheerleaders rank among the best in the nation.

The interest is not only good for the conference, but for schools and programs such as Kentucky when it comes to the non-revenue sports, such as baseball and volleyball.

In the future, the league will be expanding its base to new frontiers.

League commissioner Mike Slive said earlier this week that the league was considering an SEC Channel to showcase its schools.

While the idea is a good one, Slive and the league must think about the money already being generated by television and radio contracts that currently exist. The SEC must expand those relationships and come up with ways to generate more revenue and more importantly additional exposure for its member schools.

Growth is good.


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