Slive addresses Vandy, SEC realignment rumors

HOOVER, Ala.-- Could Vanderbilt ever be voted out of the Southeastern Conference, as a number of newspaper columnists have suggested this summer? Commissioner Mike Slive addressed that issue specifically Tuesday at SEC Media Days, as well as a number of other issues regarding conference realignment, possible expansion, and competition from the ACC. (Part 3 in a series of reports from SEC Media Days)

HOOVER, Ala.-- Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive addressed the media Tuesday afternoon at SEC Media Days, and touched on issues regarding conference realignment, possible expansion, and diversity among the member schools coaching staffs. Afterwards Slive was quizzed by reporters; below are some of those questions and some of his answers.

Q: What kind of concerns might the SEC have about the ACC's growth?

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: I think the ACC by the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech has strengthened itself in the sport of football. That's what I said earlier-- it's great. It's competition. It just gives us a chance to crank it up and stay where we are. Number one.

Q: Does the SEC need to do anything to reinvent itself to stay in competition, or do you just stay where you are?

A: Obviously the SEC, as I tried to point out today, has some issues it needs to take care of. Over time we'll take care of those issues. The uniqueness of this league, and the importance of football in this league makes it very special and very hard to emulate. You can try a whole lot of things, but it's very hard to emulate.

Q: Are there any markets that you guys would find desirable if the different realignments... depending on how everything shook out? Is there anywhere you guys could grow that it would make sense?

A: That presumes that we were interested in growing, and that has not been an issue for us. It is not something that we have had on the burner. That's not to say that... as we look ahead, we can look at all kinds of options. But right now, that's just not been on our front burner.

Q: There's been speculation in several columns this summer that the SEC could or should vote out a member institution, like say a Vanderbilt, that hadn't been pulling its weight financially. Could you speculate on the possibility of that, and are there any provisions in the bylaws for something like that?

A: If you heard what I was saying [in the prior meeting]* , then I think that answers your question. That is just not on the agenda. Period.

Q: It's not a possibility?

A: It's not on the agenda. I mean, one of the things that we are attempting to do as a league is strengthen ourselves in lots of areas, some of which Vanderbilt makes a significant contribution.

Q:South Carolina's president said that he had received unofficial contact from the ACC folks. When you read that, do you try to make contact with those kind of schools that might make geographic sense with the ACC just to get a recommitment from them?

A: I keep in constant contact with our presidents, chancellors and athletic directors. Ask them, and they'll tell you that's been one of the hallmarks of our first year. For me to talk to any of our presidents and chancellors is just routine.

Q: You've been very emphatic saying you're not concerned about a team jumping out of the SEC. What makes you so confident?

A: Just all the characteristics of this conference. How important football is. We've developed basketball in a way that no one thought this conference would develop. If you do the math, you can go back and re-do the revenue and see some things there. The presidents and chancellors meet together, talk together. There's just relationships, loyalties and traditions that make this league extremely stable, extremely tight, and extremely proud of itself, even with all its issues. I'm just very comfortable on that issue.


* Earlier, Slive's address to the print media had included these words:

"After 70 years, the SEC has its own identity and tradition, with intense rivalries 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 made 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-- sometimes they take unusual turns, but they're there. The result is loyalty and pride in being part of this conference. These are the ties that bind.

"At the same time, we cannot sit on our laurels... all of our chancellors, all of our athletics directors are committed to the Southeastern Conference, and to the goal of making the SEC even better than it is... but in all areas, not just athletically, and not just financially, but academically, and in terms of compliance." Top Stories