In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, SEC commissioner Mike Slive strongly intimated that there is change in the air as it pertains to how big-time college football conducts its business.
“I have a sense that there are several of us that feel like change is important and addressing these issues from a national perspective is important,” Slive told the AP. “And I fully expect that we will do that, and I fully expect that the SEC will make every effort to contribute to that discussion and hopefully the appropriate action following those discussions.”
Wednesday afternoon, Slive laid out his plans for change.
Kicking off the SEC’s annual media days, Slive spent in excess of 22 minutes addressing the 900-plus media members in attendance on what he labeled a “national agenda for change”. Slive stated that the SEC developed the agenda with the intention off stimulating national discussion on changing a game he says “has lost the benefit of the doubt” when it comes to public perception.
There’s little doubt that Slive’s four-pronged agenda will stimulate both national discussion as well as internal debate/rage amongs the coaches in his own conference.
The first area Slive addressed was a hot-button issue that’s been at the forefront of discussion of late: redefining the benefits given to student-athletes. While Slive did not come out in favor of stipends, he did promote the “full cost of scholarship” idea championed by his Big Ten counterpart, Jim Delany. Such a move, which would likely cost a university an additional $3,000 per year per student-athlete per sport, would add to the current benefits of tuition, housing, books, etc. Slive dismissed the notion that some schools could not financially support such an initiative, saying that economics should prevent an institution from doing what’s right by a student-athlete.
Additionally, and perhaps more importantly when it comes to the football side of the equation, Slive proposed doing away with the renewable one-year scholarships and instead offering student-athletes binding multi-year scholarships. If this slice of Slive’s proposal were to be adopted nationally, it would in theory make it much more difficult for coaches, particularly in Slive’s own conference, to perform their annual roster manipulation.
The second prong of Slive’s “national agenda for change” concerned academics, specifically strengthening the academic guidelines for incoming freshman and JUCO transfers. Arguably the most explosive — and thus controversial — change Slive proposed was for the minimum grade point average for incoming student-athletes to be raised from its current 2.0 to 2.5 for 16 core high school courses. Once again, this proposal will likely raise the ire of some/most of the coach’s in his conference, especially the one that has to deal with the South Carolina educational system.
In addition to the raising of the GPA for incoming recruits for all sports, Slive would also like to see the return of partial qualifiers. Under Slive’s proposal, and as it was in the past, a partial qualifier would be admitted to school, attend classes and practice with his/her respective teams, but would not be permitted to play in any games until their academic house was in order.
As for the third prong, Slive, as he has stated previously, would like to see the NCAA modernize recruiting rules, or, as he put it, push the reset button on the recruiting process. Among the changes in the recruiting game Slive proposes includes permitting a more expansive use of electronic communication (texting, emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) between recruits and coaches; simplify the recruiting calendar, and simply get down to days coaches can or can’t contact potential recruits; and encourage the adoption of rules that would return recruiting to the scholastic setting “rather than through third parties and so-called handlers”. The latter is obviously an attempt to rid the game of so-called street agents and limit the growing power of 7-on-7 organizations.
Slive would also like to see the so-called “bump rule” banished from the rulebook, which would make a certain Tuscaloosa a happy man, although it likely wouldn’t make him break out in anything remotely resembling a smile.
The final point on Slive’s agenda is to continue to support the NCAA’s efforts to improve enforcement of its bylaws. As part of that help, Slive would like to see the NCAA rulebook “greatly streamlined” — the third prong of his initiative would certainly help in this area — as well as see investigations expedited and completed in a more timely fashion.
Suffice to say, Slive has put his conference at the forefront of what some consider to be some much-needed change in the game, and it will be interesting to see how his counterparts, Delany in particular, respond to Slive’s “national agenda for change” at their conference’s respective media days over the next week or so.