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Slive On Expansion: “I Would Never Say Never”

As you might have seen in our headlines today, Mike Slive sat down for a Q&A with Tim Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week.  A lot of topics were covered — and it’s good stuff as usual from Tucker — but one particular portion of the interview caught our eye as it seems to reveal two things.

First, that the commissioner isn’t thrilled with the current unsteady landscape of college athletics and, second, that he won’t rule out further SEC expansion because of it:


Tucker: What did you think about the Big Ten adding Maryland and Rutgers last week (followed this week by the ACC replacing Maryland with Louisville)? Surprised?

Slive: Well, in this day and age, nothing surprises me. Obviously, my focus is on our league and what’s good for us. We have been very pleased with the addition of A&M and Missouri for lots of different reasons — they’re fine academic institutions; they sponsor broad-based programs; they are committed to being the best they can be; their fans have the same kind of passion and interest in their institutions as ours do. So that’s really where our focus is.

Tucker: Is there still more conference realignment to come?

Slive: If you had asked me four or five months ago, I would have thought maybe we were entering an era of stability. But since I can’t speak for anybody else except myself, it’s hard to know. There isn’t anything in this area that surprises me anymore.

Tucker: Is the SEC entrenched for now at 14 members? Or could you go to 16?

Slive: We were very comfortable at 12. We were very successful at 12. And when (Texas A&M and Missouri) contacted us and our folks analyzed them … we felt they’d be a good addition. And they are. I think we are comfortable now at 14. But given the vagaries of the world we live in, I would never say never.

Tucker: Does anything about all of this expansion/realignment bother you?

Slive: To me, it’s really a question of what are the reasons for doing it. Do they make sense? Are they appropriate? Are they grounded in the kind of philosophy that is in fact a foundation of a conference? Some of the expansion I see, including our own, fits that model. Some of the expansion does not.

Tucker: Will you tell me which ones do not?

Slive: I’ll give you the shortest answer I can give you. The answer is no. Terrific try, though.


Translation: If we’re forced to move, we will be prepared to do so.

That should surprise no one, of course.

If the landscape shifts further, expect the SEC to eye new areas for the purposes of growing its roster of cable households for the SEC Network to come.  That means schools in the states of North Carolina and Virginia will be on the SEC’s target list and — if worst comes to worst — Pittsburgh could also be used to expand into Pennsylvania if a fallback option is needed.

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