July 16, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
HOOVER, Ala. - Commissioner Mike Slive opened Southeastern Conference Media Days on Tuesday with a qualified vote of confidence for the NCAA, followed by a thinly veiled warning that things could change.
Slive said, though he sees some progress, important goals put forth by the SEC have not been reached.
"Our challenges are complex," Slive said. "They always have been and always will be. With that said, we have supported and continue to support the NCAA as the appropriate governing organization. At the same time, however, we will continue to push for changes we believe are in the best interests of our student-athletes. We are encouraged by the NCAA's ongoing review of its governance structure."
A year ago, Slive introduced an "agenda for change" that included three major issues the SEC wanted to see the NCAA address: Redefining the benefits available for student-athletes, strengthening academic eligibility requirements for incoming freshmen and two-year transfers and modernizing recruiting rules.
Efforts to allow a $2,000 stipend for athletes and to eliminate some recruiting restrictions failed when the BCS-level schools were outvoted by schools with smaller programs.
In some areas," Slive said. "We remain bound by what has been the way we've always done it rather than being motivated to seek a better way to achieve a new result."
Slive, in what he called his "brag bag," lauded SEC schools and athletes for their success in competition and in the clasroom. He also touched on off-field issues, SEC scheduling and the ongoing concern about concussions.
Declaring that the "vast majority" of college athletes do things the right way, Slive said off-field issues can't be swept away. He said the conference and its member schools provide support to help athletes who are willing to take advantage.
"We are not naïve enough to believe we can put an end to all unacceptable behavior," Slive said. "It is a crushing disappointment when, despite all of these efforts, a young person throws away an opportunity for a promising future. We are not naïve enough to think we can put an end to unacceptable behavior, but that doesn't mean we won't continue to try, try, try."
Slive said the goal remains to have a long-term football scheduling policy in place by 2016, but the review goes on. He did not rule out going to a nine-game league schedule and did not rule out eliminating permanent cross-divisional opponents.
"This review will include whether to play an eight- or nine-game conference schedule and whether to retain permanent non-divisional opponents," Slive said. "Until it is complete, we will continue to schedule on the current 6-1-1 format. As I said in the spring, simple goal is to select a format that is in long-term best interest of the conference as a whole."
Slive called on the NCAA to make dealing with concussions a priority.
"The issue of concussions is not limited to one conference or one season," Slive said. "We all share the concern about the overall health of college football and its participants. With this in mind, it is incumbent that the NCAA provides the leadership."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: