"As many of you know, when I came to the SEC last summer in July, I outlined some of the challenges - which in effect are really goals - that the conference would face in the years ahead.
His list of goals:
Here are his detail comments about each goal.
1) Maintaining the SEC's competitive and financial strengths.
2) Insuring the academic success of the SEC's student-athletes, leading to graduation.
"We want our student-athletes to be sought after upon graduation as potential leaders in all walks of life based on the values they learned from success in the classroom and from highly competitive athletic competition. To that end, the Southeastern Conference supported both phases of the NCAA academic reform package. Most recently, phase 2 was just introduced last week. We don't agree with all the components, but we agree with the need for academic reform. There is no doubt these rules will cause some discomfort and adjustments for our coaches and student-athletes."
Academic honors in more detail:
3) Providing gender and ethnic diversity in the SEC.
"The fact that there are only four minority head football coaches in Division 1A, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by all conferences. The fact that the SEC has never had a minority head football coach brings the spotlight here. And it will stay here until that fact is changed. We have made important and significant progress regarding diversity in the SEC. In the last two years, minority coaches have been on the short list in three of our football coaches searches.
"In addition to the four minority head men's basketball coaches now in the conference, we have had as many as six of our institutions with minority head basketball coaches.
"With minority coaches in other sports, diversity has been increased, but it has also been increased at another important level, in the senior level athletic administrative positions. Many of them will be our athletic directors of the future.
"Our goal is to increase diversity throughout the conference at all levels. Whether it be head coaches, whether it be assistant coaches, whether it be coordinators, whether it be athletic administrators, the goal is to create opportunities for everyone at every level in the Southeastern Conference.
"The Southeastern Conference office will create a database of Division 1A and NFL minority coaches for the second consecutive year. That will be used as a reference by our presidents, chancellors and our athletic directors as they search for replacements when they have to do that.
"Within the next couple of weeks, we will appoint our first intern to the new conference office Minority Internship Program."
4) Dealing with NCAA infractions and compliance issues.
"Infractions and compliance issues continue to be challenges for all major conferences as you have seen over the past several weeks. That includes ours. You have heard me reiterate that we will have no schools on probation in five years. We cannot afford not to achieve this goal. We have made some progress in completing some cases, but we still have a lot more to do.
"I have been pleased with some things. Our institutions have reacted appropriately, quickly and thoroughly when confronted with these issues this past year. There is no doubt in my mind that our folks understand the significance of these issues.
"We have reconstructed and reinforced the conference compliance staff in our office to provide the best possible services to our student-athletes, our coaches and our institutions.
"A committee put in place last fall is in the late stages of its review of compliance issues. We expect the report in late fall."
5) Enhancing communication between the SEC's presidents, chancellors, athletic directors and coaches.
"Our athletic directors, presidents, chancellors met more this past year than ever before. For the first time in a very long time, met together to discuss issues that needed to be discussed together. In addition to our annual meeting, I will be meeting with our football coaches in individual groups of 2 and even 1 over the next three days, so that we can sit down and share our opinions and our positions on matters that are critical to the future of the conference and to their respective programs. We will do the same thing in the sport of basketball."
6) Playing a leadership role in the development of the national legislative agenda.
"One such issue from this past year was fan behavior. We played a significant role in the development of the Sportsmanship Summit held last February in Dallas involving approximately 150 people from all aspects of event management and fan behavior. Our conference ADs will be entertaining recommendations from our event people later in August. We then hope to implement them. Then, a document will be made available to all of us that will include some of the best practices and issues that were dicussed at the summit."
Comments in regard to looking toward the future....
The Bowl Championship Series (BCS):
"As you know, the BCS commissioners, the presidential oversight committee and the athletic director advisory group with Robert Khayat, the Chancellor of Ole Miss, on the presidential oversight committee and Jeremy Foley on the athletic directors group have been working towards developing where the Southeastern Conference stands.
"The decision of the Presidential Oversight Committee to not have their commissioners pursue an NFL-style playoff is certainly consistent with the position of the Southeastern Conference.
"It has long been the view of the conference - and mine - that the Southeastern Conference's best interest is to protect the regular season, not to shorten it; to provide for a 1-2 championship game in the context of the eight-year bowl tradition and to avoid an adverse impact on the academic life of our players."
"During the months of the ACC and the Big East changes, I asked myself what makes other conferences want to look more like the SEC, particularly in football? What makes the SEC special? After 70 years, the Southeastern Conference has its own identity and tradition with intense rivals and the most passionate fans in America. Because of our geography, fans can get there from here. The fact that we are regional in location and national in scope and reputation makes the Southeastern Conference unique. Despite the fears and intense competition on and off the field, the stability of the Southeastern Conference over the years has allowed relationships to develop between fans and institutions. The result is loyalty and pride in being part of this conference.
"At the same time we cannot sit on our laurels. We have to meet our goals in the future as I have outlined them. All of our presidents, all of our chancellors and all of our athletic directors are committed to the goal of making the SEC even better than it is in all areas, not just athletically."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.