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SEC To Pick It Up On The Hoops Scheduling Front Next Year; Money’s Still Key

basketball on moneyThis past offseason, Mike Slive and the SEC tipped off a new initiative to improve SEC basketball.  The league has made associate commissioner Mark Whitworth the overseer of this hoops push (something we suggested the SEC do just days before they did it) and consultant Greg Shaheen has been charged with keeping schools in line when it comes to non-conference scheduling.

This season, the SEC’s non-conference schedules didn’t show much improvement.  Hoops czar Whitworth told Mike Strange of The Knoxville News Sentinel that things will change moving forward:


“For this year it was kind of late in the process (to make changes) so we cut some slack.  The more significant impact will be for ’14-15…

It’s vital teams go on the road.  Tennessee going to Xavier and Wichita (State) was very, very important…

As a general rule schools won’t schedule below the 200 (RPI) level if they can help it.”


More road games — it should be noted Tennessee lost on both of those road trips — and no games versus the RPI dregs.  Sounds good.  But SEC squads are still going to have to start winning.

Ironically, the SEC’s turn of bad luck in basketball began just as the league began a run of seven consecutive national championships in football (a streak snapped in the final seconds of this year’s BCS title game).  Once a five- or six-bid league, the conference has been more often a three- or four-bid league in recent seasons.

We contend that money is truly at the root of the SEC’s hoops woes.  As TV money has increased, SEC schools have poured most of that cash right back into the key money-maker.  And why not?  If football is king and football brings in the most television revenue, the best bet for a school is to upgrade its football program.

Check the lists of the highest-paid coaches in both sports and you’ll find a lot more high-dollar SEC football coaches than you will high-dollar basketball coaches.  Also, compare facilities on each campus.  How many SEC football cathedrals are matched in style by the basketball arenas that neighbor them?  On the whole, much more attention — and money — is dedicated to the gridiron facilities race than to the hoops facilities race.

Launching in August, the SEC Network should create a big, new revenue stream for the Southeastern Conference.  If some of that newfound cash isn’t spent hiring the top coaches in the country and upgrading the league’s basketball arenas and building the practice facilities that all coaches whine for then all the scheduling in the world won’t help matters.  If SEC schools want to improve their hoops fortunes, it’s time to invest some fortunes in that effort.


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Slive Says Hoops Didn’t Meet Expectations Last Year

MIKE SLIVE MEDIA DAYSThe fact that Mike Slive said today that SEC men’s basketball didn’t meet the league’s high expectations last season was not a surprise.  What was a surprise was the fact that Slive talked basketball at all during the league’s football Media Days event.

Slive reminded everyone that the league last week created a new position for a basketball overseer.  Mark Whitworth was named to the new position of “associate commissioner for men’s basketball” just six days ago.  Slive also announced today that former NCAA Tournament bigwig Greg Shaheen has been asked by the league to aid member institutions in putting together quality basketball schedules moving forward.

Those of you who read on a regular basis know that we wrote on June 26th of this year that the SEC needed to hire a new “hoops czar.” 

Turns out the league has indeed put someone in that type of role and they’ve brought in another hired gun to help improve the league’s basketball product.  Smart move.  And, yes, we’d been tipped to the fact that such a deal was coming.  (Thus the article on the 26th.)

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