One of the most powerful men in college sports will soon abdicate his throne.
Following myriad questions of just how much longer he would remain on the job over the past couple of years, Mike Slive announced Tuesday that he will officially retire as the commissioner of the SEC on July 31, 2015. The retirement news comes as the 74-year-old Slive is beginning treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer. The commissioner had been treated for the disease in the late 1990s.
Following his retirement next summer, Slive will serve in the role of consultant to the conference for a period of four years.
“I have been blessed in more ways than I can count and I will have as much passion for this job on my last day as I did on my first,” said Slive in a statement. “I consider my health situation a temporary detour in a remarkable road that has allowed me to meet amazing people, experience incredible events and celebrate historic victories. I will relish my final year in this position and look forward to being the biggest fan of the SEC for many years to come.”
The release stated that Slive’s duties could be impacted by his medical treatment.
His medical condition was diagnosed subsequent to a surgical procedure on his back in August of this year. His prognosis is good and he will continue to carry out his responsibilities from the SEC Office and his home office in Birmingham. It is anticipated that his travel and appearances may be limited for the near future.
Slive, then the commissioner of Conference USA, was hired to replace the legendary Roy Kramer, officially assuming the position on July 1, 2002. In the decade-plus that’s followed, Slive has helped guide the conference to unprecedented heights on the football field and astronomical profits off of it.
The SEC Network will likely go down as his crowning achievement and most lasting mark, an endeavor that promises to continue stuffing member institution’s coffers for decades to come. A close second would be some combination of adding Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC; leading the push for Power Five autonomy; and being one of the more strident and vocal proponents of a playoff system.
As for a replacement, the current favorite appears to be SEC chief operating officer Greg Sankey. There’s no timetable for the league’s 14 members to name a replacement, although it’s fair to say Slive will have a significant say in his successor.