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SEC Looking At A League-Wide Drug Testing Policy Once Again

mrsec-breaking-newsBrett McMurphy of ESPN.com reports today that “presidents, athletic directors and coaches of Southeastern Conference schools have discussed the possibility of the conference implementing a conference-wide substance abuse policy.”  That according to Georgia AD Greg McGarity.

This is not the first time the idea of a uniform testing policy has been brought up at the SEC’s annual meetings in Destin.  Commissioner Mike Slive has put a uniform policy on the agenda at least twice before only to have the league’s presidents decide that they would rather continue to implement their own policies.

At MrSEC.com, we have pushed this issue on a number of occasions.  In our view, with the cash the SEC will now have rolling in, the league could mandate that all schools use the same company to conduct their tests.  According to McGarity, however, the league isn’t looking to involve itself in the minutiae of drug testing policies:

 

“I don’t think it’s necessary to get down into the weeds as far as how many times you test, what are the measurements, what are the minimum (levels for a positive test), but we believe there should be some type of consistent penalty (for each positive test).”

 

In other words, league officials simply want to stick a toe in the water before deciding whether to dive in all the way.  There’s an obvious problem attached to having consistent penalties without having control over any other aspects of testing — schools can test their athletes less often.  Schools could also set higher minimum requirements for positive tests.

There is absolutely no reason for the schools of the SEC not to conduct the same types of tests, the same number of tests, and dole out the same penalties for positive tests.

If the SEC presidents are queasy about drug testing issues being taken out of their hands, the league should at the very least set minimums that each school must abide by.  Example: The minimum number of tests is X.  The minimum limit for a positive result is Y.  If schools want to be tougher than the league’s mandated minimums, that would be up to the individual schools, but the minimums would be ironclad.

The goal of the league should be to get everyone on the same page.  Just dealing with penalties is a nice first step, but it doesn’t go far enough if the goal is actual equality in testing.

The league could bring the issue to a presidential vote tomorrow.

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Slive: SEC Exploring A “Primary” Site For Men’s Hoops Tournament

South-MapNow here’s a surprise from the SEC meetings in Destin — the league might soon slow down its rotation of host sites for the SEC men’s basketball tournament.  Commissioner Mike Slive revealed the following on Tuesday evening:

 

“We talked with our athletic directors about future tournament sites.  And the ADs voted unanimously to authorize the conference to explore a primary site for the men’s basketball tournament.  You know, currently we’ve been rotating the tournament.  We’ve been very successful with our permanent site in football in Atlanta.  We’ve been very successful with our permanent site in Hoover (Alabama) in terms of baseball.  So the ADs felt it was time for us to explore the possibility of a primary site for the men’s basketball tournament.  So we will begin that exploration shortly.”

 

You might have noticed that Slive spoke of “permanent” sites for the league’s football and baseball championships while saying the conference office would explore a “primary” site for basketball.  Possible meaning: The SEC will pick on home site for its tourney while still keeping its options open for an occasional change-of-pace site.   Such a plan would allow the league to coax a massive bid from the “primary” city as well as some big-money splurges from “special occasion” host cities.

Between 1998 and 2016, Atlanta will have served as the host site for the tourney 10 different times.  Nashville will have hosted six times (including this past season and 2015 and 2016).  New Orleans (twice) and Tampa (once) are the only other cities that will have hosted the SEC Tournament during that 19-year run.

With Nashville hosting the event in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2016, it appears that the Music City has become a league favorite.  And why wouldn’t it?  Nashville has first-rate nightlife and dining, a large arena build for professional sports, and plenty of hotels within walking distance of the Bridgestone Arena.  Win, win and win.

While it’s possible the league could double-down in Atlanta or simply hand the tourney to the highest bidder, we’d put our money on Nashville becoming the “primary” site for the SEC men’s basketball tournament.  As a matter of fact, when Slive was asked about Nashville specifically, he reported smiled and said, “It’s a good city.”

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WOW Headlines – 5/28/13

The SEC spring meetings are underway in Destin, Florida
A nine-game conference football schedule and permanent cross-division rivalries are expected to be hot topics
Commissioner Mike Slive says the scheduling issues will come down to “What is in the long-term best interest of the Southeastern Conference?”
Georgia starting S Josh Harvey-Clemsons could miss the Bulldogs opener at Clemson due to a marijuana-related incident
The LVH SuperBook in Las Vegas lists six SEC schools among its top eight favorites to win the 2013 BCS championship
Alabama is the favorite with 5-2 odds while Georgia (10-1), Texas A&M (12-1), LSU (15-1), South Carolina (15-1) and Florida (15-1) round out the top eight
Follow SEC football, basketball, recruiting, and off-field news at MrSEC.com each day

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Official SEC Website Briefly Posts “Missouri Joins The SEC” Story

Late last night, the SEC’s official website briefly posted a page entitled “Tiger Tracks: Missouri Joins The SEC.”  The page was a perfect match to the page posted at SECSports.com when Texas A&M was officially welcomed to the league.

By 11:55 last night, the page and all of the accompanying links had been removed.  Those links were:

* University Of Missouri: What You Need To Know
* Missouri-SEC Connections: A History
* Homecoming Tradition Traced To Missouri
* Missouri To The SEC: The Dortch Report (Basketball)
* Missouri To The SEC: Barnhart’s Take

The page and the links were dated October 22nd, 2011 which was last Saturday.  The opening statement read:

“BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Given the ever-changing conference paradigm over the past year, the Southeastern Conference has continued to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining its stature as one of the nation’s premier conferences by welcoming the University of Missouri as the league’s 14th member, Commissioner Mike Slive announced Monday.”

Now perhaps that announcement is scheduled to really go this coming Monday.  Or, it’s possible it was scheduled to post last Monday… only to be delayed by the Big 12 putting up more legal roadblocks than were expected.

At the SEC’s basketball media day yesterday, Slive acknowledged that his league is working on 13- and 14-team schedules for 2012.  That refutes what Georgia AD Greg McGarity told the press earlier this week.

Regarding the SEC’s size in 2012, Slive even went so far as to say:


“We’ll know when we know.  There’s no timetable for us.  I know everybody is anxious to know where things stand with conference realignment, especially with all this activity out there.  With respect to the SEC, I have really nothing new to add, at least at this time.”

So what does all this tell us?  Well, it tells me personally that I don’t have to start doubting my sources.

Last week we wrote that Missouri would be announced as a member of the SEC this week.  Clearly that was the plan and our sources were correct in telling us that.  Unfortunately, they didn’t foresee the Big 12 putting up as hard a fight as it has.

We also said last week — and have continued to say this week — that Mizzou will land in the SEC for 2012.  As we wrote two days ago, MU and the SEC both want that to happen.  Slive’s statement regarding a 14-team schedule shows that he hasn’t given up hope.  The Tigers might still be forced to make a farewell tour through the Big 12 next year, but one official with an SEC school told us Wednesday:


“The Big 12 isn’t the only group with attorneys reading through contracts.” 

In other words, there’s likely wiggle room to be found and a deal to be cut.  But with Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton heading to India for a 9-day trip next week, time could become an issue.

We are also sticking by the assertion we made last week that Missouri will definitely land in the SEC East because that is the simplest solution available (as we broke down in detail here).  Since we wrote that, several other outlets have gone from calling Mizzou-to-the-East a possibility to calling it a likely scenario.

Last night’s web flub by the SEC — and I’m just glad to know I’m not the only one who hits a wrong key every now and then — shows that Missouri to the SEC is a done deal.  And while no one has said that officially just yet, everyone darn well knows it.

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Calipari Opens Up About Schedule, Record And Expectations

John Calipari was in a talkative mood yesterday, covering a number of topics with the Bluegrass State media.  Not surprisingly, the issue of his vacated wins was on the agenda:


“This is a players-first program.  It’s about our players.  It’s not about me.  They don’t have to put my record anywhere, for all I care.”


Calipari then touched on whether or not his new team might be selfish with the basketball:


“It seems to play itself out.  If you’re teaching them to be good teammates and you’re teaching them to be good basketball players, that doesn’t become an issue.  Especially when you recruit like we are.  We’re recruiting good kids.”


He also talked about the expectation level in Lexington this season:


“We’re supposed to win every game by 30.  That’s OK.  I’m fine.  I’ve had teams that have been underrated.  I’ve had teams overrated.  We’ll become a good defensive team.  We’ll share the ball.  We try to take good shots.  We’ll try to play harder than the opponent.”


And he even shared his thoughts about possible changes that could be coming to the SEC’s conference schedule:


“They should never go to 22 (conference games).  It’d be a disaster at 22. … Sixteen should be fine.  Eighteen is OK.  I’d rather not have it, but if it’s best for the league, I’d say fine.”


Commissioner Mike Slive seems to be in favor of an 18-game league schedule — and as we learned at the recent SEC meetings in Destin — what Slive wants… he usually gets.

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So The SEC Might Have To Play By Everyone Else’s Rules? Boo-Hoo

It’s only Tuesday and we’ve already had our fill of oversigning talk.  Imagine how much chatter we’re going to hear on that topic by Friday?

With the SEC meetings kicking off today, stories like this one and like this one attempt to frame and explain the battle lines that are being drawn with regards to “roster management.”

Commissioner Mike Slive has hinted at making gradual changes to the current system rather than wholesale changes.  Mississippi AD Pete Boone has said the league won’t be adopting a Big Ten-style rule this week in Destin.

But what if the league did go cold turkey on oversigning altogether?  What if the SEC was forced to play by — you know — the same rules that most other schools choose to play by?

If that happened — and we don’t expect that it will — we here at MrSEC.com, would turn a deaf ear to the whining and whimpering that multi-millionaire coaches would no doubt make over the fact that they would now have to face the same roster-building limitations that other coaches in other leagues face.

Does that make us anti-SEC?  Nope.  It actually means we have more faith in the coaches, the money and facilities they have to work with, and the ridiculous depth of talent that’s produced in the nine SEC states than the coaches themselves seem to have.

The SEC has enough history, tradition, and talent to dominate the national landscape without having a built-in advantage when it comes to roster-building.  So here’s hoping the SEC’s presidents don’t put too much stock in the boogeyman stories their coaches have been telling them about life with an — egads — level playing field.

For that matter, perhaps some of the league presidents might want to ask their coaches why they demand such exorbitant salaries if, in fact, they’re simply benefiting from a big, built-in advantage they have over coaches in other leagues.

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SEC Pledges $500,000 To University Of Alabama

Stop the conspiracy theories before they start.  Stop the moaning.  And if you’re tempted to say, “I bet if that were our school, the SEC wouldn’t do anything,” please put a sock in it.

The Southeastern Conference — in a very good move — has pledged $500,000 to help tornado victims at the University of Alabama.  The contribution will help assist students, faculty and staff who were displaced or injured by the recent devastating storms in Tuscaloosa.

The SEC, of course, is made up of all 12 member institutions.  This pledge is basically a way for the other 11 schools to extend aid — additional aid in many cases — to UA.  University of Florida president Bernie Machen (for instance) said that while SEC rivals “compete fiercely in athletics, we also support each other fiercely in times of need.”

Commissioner Mike Slive visited Tuscaloosa on Sunday and had this to say: “I’ve hear a lot of people say words don’t describe what happened, and words don’t describe it.  The devastation is so complete that in a sense it’s mind-numbing.  You keep seeing it and it’s almost as if your eyes are trying to send a message to your mind that this is really what you’re seeing.”

“There was this sens that this is very difficult and tragic, but it was just a matter of time before people were going to rebuild,” Slive said.  It’s part of the South.  No matter what other issues we have, the fundamental goodness of us is manifested.”

For those of you believe President Obama was born on Mars, that Osama bin Laden is alive and living with Elvis and Jim Morrison, and that Mike Slive is solely responsible for cutting a league check to Bama ’cause he likes ‘em, kindly put the foil hat back on your head and step away from the various messageboards out there.

The schools of the Southeastern Conference are aiding one of their own.  And it’s an excellent decision.


In other tornado-related news:

ESPN’s Rece Davis has been in Tuscaloosa working on a report that will air on Sunday’s “SportsCenter.”  Davis is an Alabama native and grad.  In 1974 he saw his own childhood home destroyed in a twister outbreak.

Last night at a Crimson Caravan tour stop, Nick Saban thanked a group of Tide fans for their help in the recovery process.  “It’s the most devastating thing I’ve seen in my life,” the coach said.  As for the SEC’s pledge of a half-million dollars, Saban sounded the same note as Machen and Slive: “It shows the quality of the league.  I know we compete against each (other), but it’s not about which school you root for.  The great schools in our league work together.”

Saban has said that he’s trying to help his own players from a mental standpoint.  “A lot of our players are affected by this psychologically in a little different way.  We’ve set up a kind of medical center for our guys in the training room so that if they have psychological issue with some of the things they’ve encountered or they’ve seen, or tried to help with, that they can get the help they need.”

Meanwhile, the city of Tuscaloosa is already trying to set new construction standards so poorly built homes and businesses don’t replace those that were destroyed by the storms.

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