Slive's state of SEC speech to focus on autonomy
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive will officially begin the 2014 college football season Monday when he gives his ‘state of the conference’ speech.
Slive will talk about the new College Football Playoff and the anticipated start of the SEC Network. A majority of Slive’s speech though will be focused on more than just his conference.
While in title Slive is the man that runs the most successful collegiate athletic conference in the country, he is much more than that. He is the biggest powerbroker in college athletics and is leading the charge to bring autonomy to the strongest conferences, the Power 5. Slive planted this seed of change three years ago.
In 2011 when Missouri and Texas A&M were in the Big XII Conference, TCU in the Mountain West and there actually was football in the Big East, SEC commissioner Mike Slive voiced his initial concern about the state of collegiate athletics. Slive presented a plan to reform the way universities treat student-athletes in terms of benefits, academic requirements and recruiting. This later became known as The Agenda for Change.
Since Slive tried to “stimulated a national discussion” to address the issues three years ago, what actually changed more than anything else was the collegiate landscape itself. It changed drastically. Conference realignment turned college athletics upside down. With little movement on behalf of the NCAA to improve the needs of student-athletes, Slive voiced his displeasure at last year’s SEC Media Days. The commissioner, pulling a page out of Steve Spurrier’s media day playbook, dropped his own quip albeit with a formal tone to it.
“The current regulatory approach would be more at home in the era of Johann Gutenberg’s printing press than in our current fast‑paced technology‑driven society and will no longer serve to functionally govern recruiting behaviors moving forward,” said Slive. “As Albert Einstein once said, ‘we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’”
In the last 12 months, the discussion of conference regulations and the NCAA’s limited capacity has gotten louder and louder. It reached its peak along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in late May at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida. Slive threatened that if the NCAA didn’t give the Power 5 the ability to create their own bylaws that they form a Division IV. In such capacity they’d be able to address the needs of student-athletes how they see fit.
“We hope everyone realizes we are moving into a new era and this is the way to retain your collegiate model,” Slive said in Destin. “It would be a disappointment, and in my view a mistake, not to adapt the model. This is a historic moment. If we don’t seize the moment, we’ll make a mistake.”
With an August vote by the NCAA board of director on the Power 5’s autonomy looming, Monday could be Slive’s last chance publicly to hammer home his point. The room is yours, commissioner.