Mike Slive, the former commissioner of the SEC, has passed away at the age of 77, the SEC announced Wednesday evening. A memorial to pay tribute to the landmark commissioner of the conference is scheduled for Friday in Birmingham.
A native of New York, Slive fit right in with the SEC. After serving as commissioner of Conference USA from 1995 through 2002, Slive thrived as commissioner of the SEC from 2002 through 2015. Slive’s run as commissioner of the SEC saw the conference rise to the top of the college football landscape and continued to improve and perform well in other sports as well.
As commissioner of the SEC from 2002 through 2015, Slive oversaw the SEC expand to add Texas A&M and Missouri and set the foundation for the conference’s rising television revenue packages that would include the SEC Network. During Slive’s run as commissioner, the SEC was home to eight BCS national champions, which included a run of seven consecutive national champions from the 2005 season through the 2012 season.
Current SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who succeeded Slive in 2015, offered a statement regarding the passing of Slive.
“For me it’s about Mike for how he affected me. He was a friend before he was the boss, he was a friend while, he was a boss and he was a friend after,” Sankey said in a statement. “My heart goes out to Liz, to Anna, Judd, Abagail. He’s a great person and I’m privileged to come to know him the way I did.
The SEC meetings are getting underway this week in Destin, which means another round of satellite camp talk. With the month of June now just days away, coaches from outside the SEC (and ACC) will begin taking part in football camps around the country. Some of those camps, as you may have heard by now, will be taking place in states with SEC schools, and SEC coaches and athletic directors and more are not pleased about it.
This week, expect to see more of a push from the SEC to try and convince the NCAA to adopt their conference rule as a national rule. That rule, of course, is to prohibit coaches from participating in any capacity at a football camp outside the normal regulations outlined by the NCAA rule book. Those NCAA allows coaches to work in camps within their own state or 50 miles from their campus if traveling across state borders. The NCAA rules also allow for coaches to work at another camp outside those boundaries so long as the coach or coaches are not advertising their appearance at another camp. The hosting school may go all out in advertising their special guests though.
The SEC and ACC each have conference rules prohibiting their coaches from working at camps in this manner. Fearing they may lose a couple of recruits to the Big Ten from their home soil, the conferences each have figureheads and coaches stumping for the NCAA to close the supposed loophole in the rule.
“We’re in an evolutionary period and the end result is that everything isn’t necessarily going to be the same for everybody,” outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive told the Associated Press last week. “That’s a difficult concept for them and it flies in the face of the experience of our coaches and our institutions for decades. The days of everything and every rule being grounded in a level playing field are gone.”
Of course, satellite camps is just one issue sure to be discussed this week. The SEC will also be reviewing cost-of-attendance issues, as well as the graduate transfer rules and more as the conference prepares for the upcoming year.
Maybe he knows it already. Perhaps the idea has not yet settled in, which would make sense considering the announcement is not even a day old. New SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will take over the role once Mike Slive officially steps down from his post in Birmingham in August. The second Sankey takes over the job, he will instantly become one fo the most powerful people in college sports.
You can debate whether Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany or Slive of the SEC has the upper hand in the world of college sports for days. Each has a solid case to be made. You cannot go wrong with either. Delany will remain in office in the Big Ten, but Sankey succeeding Slive is about as lateral a move as the SEC could have possibly made. That should mean Sankey’s power position among conference commissioners will stay steady alongside Delany and ahead the figureheads representing the ACC (John Swofford), Big 12 (Bob Bowlsy) or Pac-12 (Larry Scott).
The transition of power in the SEC offices should be a smooth one. That tends to be the case when you can find the next commissioner just down the hall following years of service in the SEC offices and taking on a key role in the running of the conference underneath the commissioner. That is what the SEC is getting with Sankey, so it should very much be able to keep the status quo. Sankey will oversee a conference that has settled in with realignment changes, added a successful sports network in partnership with ESPN and is continuing to see profits on the rise. Things are going well for the SEC, including football despite not being crowned as a national champion for a second straight season.
“He is a quiet, engaging guy,” SEC Network host and commentator Paul Finebaum told AL.com back in October. “You would think he is like Mike Slive’s younger brother. There is no doubt (about) how they have been able to work together so well.”
Despite being able to follow in Slive’s footsteps without conducting a complete overhaul of the conference, there will be some new challenges and tasks for Sankey to oversee. Autonomy is here and power conferences are on the verge of taking advantage of new protocols and regulations. Monitoring those changes will be the responsibility of Sankey, and communicating with his new peer sin other conferences as well as his own conference’s leadership will be key. Sankey may just be there to carry out the wishes of the university presidents within the SEC, his opinions and thoughts will carry a great distance with tremendous volume. What he says will matter.
More importantly, Sankey has developed quite the reputation by having an influence on a number of the big topics floating around college sports today. Sankey has been involved with promoting player welfare. He has been helping to lead the charge to have schools provide full cost of attendance stipends that are finally coming this year. Sankey knows the issues, and seems to be on the cutting edge of the changes going on in the world of college sports.
Being the voice of the SEC will carry some great demands and expectations, but Sankey appears to be a leader who will be comfortable handling those responsibilities.
The SEC has found their new commissioner. Greg Sankey will be introduced as the new commissioner on Friday. Sankey will replace Mike Slive, who announced a retirement plan last year.
Vanderbilt chancellor Nick Zeppos will make the formal introduction Friday at a press conference scheduled for 11:00 a.m. eastern on Friday at Bridgestone Arena, where the SEC men’s basketball conference tournament is being held.
“The institutions of the Southeastern Conference searched for a commissioner who would carry forward the momentum of success enjoyed by the SEC over the last decade while also possessing a vision for change in the modern era of college athletics,” said Zeppos. “Greg Sankey’s experience with our institutions, his respect on the national landscape, his understanding of the balance of athletics and academics, and his passion for the welfare of student-athletes make him the perfect leader for the SEC.”
Sankey has been a part of the SEC for 13 years, serving roles as Executive Associate Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer since 2012. Since joining the SEC staff Sankey has played a role with the league’s governance, enforcement and compliance programs as well as directing the SEC’s championship staff.
“The universities of the SEC represent the greatest combination of academic and athletic excellence and I am honored to be selected to follow Mike Slive as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference,” Sankey said. “The SEC is poised to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes for generations to come. We must ensure that the lessons they learn from their achievements in competition and in the classroom translate into success in life after college.”
Sankey was previously the commissioner of the Southland Conference.
The two most powerful men in college athletics continue to be on opposite sides of a divisive topic, like Republicans and Democrats on just about anything. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and SEC commissioner Mike Slive are not seeing eye-to-eye on te topic of freshman eligibility. Not yet at least. Delany has spearheaded the recent conversation, but Slive is advises to be patient on the topic until the NCAA rules take effect in 2016.
“We have to remember that each college student has his or her own academic challenges,” Slive said in a statement Monday. Slive was responding to the idea presented by Delany and the Big Ten to prevent student-athletes in certain sports from competing as freshmen in order to provide a more stable introduction to academic life.
“To put a blanket over these student-athletes with a year on the bench doesn’t address those individual needs to incentivize academic progress,” Slive continued.
The Big Ten may be fighting a losing battle here, or Delany may be drawing his line in the sand to back up the idea the Big Ten really is focused more on academics than other conferences. Delany and the Big Ten are currently seeking opinions about freshman eligibility rules.