Slive Says He Has "Unfinished Business" With SEC

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Southeastern Conference Commissioner
Mike Slive has unfinished business and he isn't leaving what has
lately become college football's penthouse anytime soon.
With two new members, six straight football national titles and
a four-team playoff to determine future champions. Slive tells The
Associated Press he has agreed to run the powerhouse SEC for "at
least a couple more years," continuing his decade-long tenure.
His contract was set to expire July 31, five days after he turns
72.
Slive is negotiating new TV deals that figure once again to be
the most lucrative in college athletics. The exact method of
choosing the four-team playoff field each season must be hammered
out, and the SEC is trying to assimilate Texas A&M and Missouri
into the now-14-team league.
The commissioner discussed those issues -- and his future -- in an
interview ahead of SEC media days, which run Tuesday through
Thursday in suburban Birmingham.
"I have agreed with the league that I will stay at least a
couple of more years, and then we'll sit down and decide what
happens after that," said Slive, who makes just over $1 million a
year. "Don't forget it takes two. It's not just me making a
unilateral decision. Both of us need to make that decision."
Auburn's Jay Jacobs, chairman of the league's athletic
directors, noted that the SEC produced 42 Academic All-Americans,
nine national team champions and seven runners-up in 2011-12.
"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Mike Slive is the
best commissioner in the nation," Jacobs said. "It's not an
accident that the dominance of the SEC in recent years coincides
with his tenure as commissioner. We all know the SEC has won six
straight BCS national championships in football. His leadership
transcends football and even all of athletics."
The professorial Slive, who became a first-time grandfather this
summer, has no shortage of projects before handing over the reins.
University presidents approved the switch to a four-team playoff
model on June 26, similar to the one Slive proposed in 2008, three
years into the SEC's current run of dominance. It might have taken
an all-SEC West showdown of Alabama vs. LSU in January to rally
sufficient support from other commissioners, athletic directors and
presidents.
Slive said conference commissioners will gather in September to
work on details like revenue distribution and a college
basketball-style selection committee for the four semifinalists.
"We'll have to sit down and talk about what would be an
appropriate number" for the committee, said Slive, who chaired the
Division I Men's Basketball Committee for the 2008-09 season.
"There have been different numbers floated around -- 16, 20. We
certainly want to have enough members of the committee so that when
certain committee members have to recuse themselves, we still have
a significant group of people considering all the data and
evaluating the teams.
"I visualize it working not unlike the men's basketball
committee that I was on and chaired for a year. You have both data
and statistics and information, and then you couple that with what
you see."
The SEC might have had even more shots at a national title under
the four-team system. The league had at least one team ranked among
the Top 4 in the final BCS standings in 11 of the 14 years the
system has been used.
Using that formula, at least, two teams would have made the cut
in both 2006 (No. 2 Florida and No. 4 LSU) and 2008 (No. 2 Florida,
No. 4 Alabama) as well as 2011. The first two times could have led
to a rematch of the SEC championship game in the finale.
Slive demurs when asked if the change is yet another win for the
SEC.
`I think it's a win for everybody," he said. "It's a win for
college football in that all of us were able to come together in a
collegial way and find a way to marry our own parochial interests
as advocates for our leagues with our responsibility for what's in
the best interest of college football."
Despite all that, the first order of business for the SEC is a
likely return to the top of the heap in TV money. The league is
renegotiating its pre-expansion 15-year, $2.25 billion TV deal with
ESPN and a $55 million-a-year contract with CBS, both signed in
2008. The Pac-12 has a $3 billion TV deal.
Slive said "there is no fixed timetable" and he's not sure if
new deals will be in place before the SEC's quest for national
title No. 7 in a row begins.
"It's hard to know because we have meetings scheduled
throughout this summer," Slive said. "Whether or not those
meetings come to a conclusion, I can't predict."
SEC schools each got a $20.1 million share of the financial pie
in 2011-12.
Texas A&M and Missouri both give the SEC a big presence into
sizable new TV markets as part of a wave of conference realignment.
"We believe that the expansion has increased our value for the
purpose of television," Slive said. "It's one of the many
benefits that we believe we will derive, particularly in the
long-term, from this expansion."
Now, the SEC's leadership also seems set for the near future.
There could be at least two internal candidates for the top job
when Slive leaves.
Mark Womack is executive associate commissioner while Greg
Sankey was promoted in March to executive associate commissioner
and chief operating officer. Sankey, formerly commissioner of the
Southland Conference, is in charge of day-to-day operations.
"Mark Womack has been here a very long time and does a
wonderful job for us," Slive said. "He's our chief fiscal officer
and the AD liaison, he deals with bowls.
"We wanted to make sure we had someone else at the same level
that could be responsible for the day-to-day operations here. Greg
is a very talented young man. He certainly is already doing an
excellent job for us."


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