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Slive Sounds Off On NCAA Allegations, Oversigning, And Sunday Football

Mike Herndon of The Mobile Press-Register recently caught up with SEC commissioner Mike Slive to discuss some of the biggest hot-button issues facing the Southeastern Conference today.  It’s interesting stuff and well worth your time.

Below — in the interest of providing a summary — we provide some of Herndon’s topics and Slive’s answers, as well as our own thoughts on the commissioner’s responses.


Topic 1:  What can be done to curtail the influence of boosters on college sports?

Slive:  It’s time to look at the process and see if there are ways to improve (our) dealing with some of these issues that have surfaced.  Many of them are just issues.  Most of the things you’re talking about are allegations or some of them are just rumors.  The fundamental thing is that anything that takes attention away from student-athletes and coaches on the field is not good for the game.  When those issues arise, I think we do have a responsibility to take a look and see if whatever processes we have in place, whatever rules we have in place, are in fact sufficient, appropriate, reasonable, expeditious.  Any time we have issues that are what we call off-the-field issues, it’s always time to see if we can do it better.

MrSEC.com’s take:  That’s a long way of saying, “something needs to be done,” but there’s no suggestion as to what that something should be.  And with good reason — no one in the history of college athletics has figured out a way to keep boosters away from players.  So no offense to the SEC’s commissioner, but there’s nothing to suggest he’ll be the man to come up with the silver bullet cure for rogue boosters. 

Does something need to be done?  Yes.  Can something be done?  Doubtful.  Hammering institutions more harshly — for the illegal actions of boosters — might cause a few to think twice before making those hundred-dollar handshakes, but it wouldn’t stop all or probably even most.


Topic 2:  Do you envision a time when college athletes will be paid?

Slive:  If you mean paying them so they become employees, I don’t see that happening.  If your question is, is it time to see whether or not the traditional definition of a scholarship — which is room, board, tuition, fees and books — is sufficient in some instances, I think that is an area that deserves a look.  One example might be that a scholarship could reach a level of the cost of education rather than just the definition of a scholarship, the full cost of education.

MrSEC.com’s take:  There is no way for Division I athletic departments to fund salaries or even stipends for all of their athletes.  Also, any attempt to fund some sports and not others would result in even greater debate and lawsuits. 


Topic 3:  Will the SEC re-examine oversigning?

Slive:  It’s more than just the question of oversigning.  It’s a question of looking at all these issues that comprise how teams develop their ultimate roster.  We have put together a group of our athletic directors who have been working on this now for several months and we anticipate looking at their report in Destin, when we do our business.  We expect the First Amendment to be alive and well in Destin and I actually anticipate that we would do something more than we have done up to now.

There are a lot of things that go with it — the question of oversigning, the question of grayshirting, the question of early admission, the question of pre-enrollment in summer school.  We are working to take a very comprehensive look at all the different elements, not just the one issue of oversigning.

MrSEC.com’s take:  Good.  As we wrote in February, the SEC has enough advantages when it comes to talent base and income that it should not need to be the most lax league in America when it comes to oversigning.


Topic 4:  Has the SEC discussed playing games on Sunday if the NFL lockout continues?

Slive:  No, we haven’t talked about it. … We’ve got a lot of tradition.  It’s the hallmark of this league. … We play on Saturday for the most part.  Whether or not we would adjust, no one has said a word to me about that and certainly we’re not going to take the initiative.

MrSEC.com’s take:  We still believe — as we wrote here last month — that this is a non-starter.  Moving games would require massive changes for fans’ and teams’ travel plans.  So this isn’t something that could likely be done at the last minute… at least not without ticking off fans who have scheduled vacation days, hotel reservations, and airline tickets. 

The NFL lockout could conceivably end at any moment.  So if it ended one week prior to CBS carrying Georgia versus South Carolina on a Sunday (for example), would that SEC game move back to Saturday?  If so, fans of the Dawgs and Cocks would be forced to change their plans for a second time.  It makes sense that the networks would want to replace NFL programming, but if the NFL returns, those networks’ contracts with the NFL would force them to air the pro games.  And that would leave the SEC to shift games back and forth.  It’s very unlikely that the SEC would play along with anything like that.

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