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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE MEDIA DAYS


July 17, 2012


Mike Slive


BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

CHARLES BLOOM:テつ Good afternoon.テつ Welcome to another edition of SEC Football Media Days.テつ We are happy that you're here and look forward to a great week.
We are pleased to welcome the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference for his 10th year, 10th address at SEC Media Days, Commissioner Mike Slive.
COMMISSIONER SLIVE:テつ Thank you.テつ Thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, 10 years ago this month, I was asked to be the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.テつ My first day on the job was to speak to what was described to me as a small press conference for SEC Football Media Days.
Then there you were, the largest gathering of media assembled in one room that I had ever seen, waiting to hear what this new commissioner had to say who hadn't even been to a SEC member institution's campus yet.テつ Hopefully I may have a couple more things to say than I did that year.テつ I went back and looked at my notes what I said that year and it wasn't very impressive.
I don't usually spend a whole lot of time looking back in my rearview mirror.テつ There's plenty of time for me to do that in the future when I get older.テつ Nonetheless, a wise man once said, "We must look to the past for inspiration for the future."
In that spirit, I want to briefly touch on our successes from the last 10 years, the extraordinary accomplishments of our student‑athletes, the current issues facing the conference, and the future with an eye on how the league plans to be even stronger in the decades to come.
During a recent radio interview I was asked to reflect on the past decade and to think about what has brought me the most satisfaction.テつ I thought back to my first press conference in the SEC office announcing my appointment.テつ At that time I outlined what I viewed as the challenges facing the conference at that time.
Some of you who attended that conference may remember some of these challenges, but just to recap I identified the following, this is 10 years ago:
Improving the academic performance of our student‑athletes leading to graduation.
Maintaining our preeminent competitive success.
Fulfilling our responsibility to ensure diversity and opportunity.
Ensuring the future financial security of our athletics departments and putting infractions and rules violations behind us.
How far we've come.
The league can take satisfaction in knowing that together we have made substantial progress in each of these challenges, and we did it faster than many expected, and we did it while educating great student‑athletes and continuing to win championships.
In terms of maintaining our preeminent competitive success, the numbers speak for themselves.テつ Over the past 10 years, we have captured 62 national championships in 16 of the 20 sports we sponsor.
This year alone, as you all know, we won nine national championships, with seven national champions runners‑up.テつ Of note, of the nine, five of them were won by our women's teams.テつ This is a tribute not only to our student‑athletes, but to the commitment that our institutions have made in support of women's athletics.
10 years ago the story was that no minority served as a head football coach in the history of the Southeastern Conference.テつ Today, we have three minority head football coaches, eight minority head basketball coaches and five minority women's basketball coaches, all bucking a national trend as outlined in a recent AP article.
I am very grateful that the hiring of minority coaches in the Southeastern Conference is no longer a story; it is simply part of who we are.
And speaking of stories, the 'SEC on ESPN' documentary series will continue into a second year.テつ This fall you will see one of four, it's about former Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom, the first African American head football coach in our league.
In the area of compliance, we've made significant progress and we've tackled infractions head on.テつ At the same time, we've enjoyed the most sustained competitive success in the history of this conference.テつ Ladies and gentlemen, that is no coincidence.テつ We must continue to be attentive to these kinds of issues, but I do take great personal satisfaction in how far we've come in this area.
Over the last decade, we have contributed to the financial stability of our athletic departments by providing revenue, primarily through television, bowl games and championships.テつ From 2002 until today, we have nearly tripled the annual revenue we distribute to our member institutions.
While we take satisfaction in all this progress, in all these successes, we must continue to be creative, innovative and think outside the box.テつ As the late great Winston Churchill said, To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.テつ Our focus on the future will echo that sentiment.
Speaking of change, last year at SEC Media Days, we talked about a proposed national Agenda for Change.テつ I thought it appropriate today to at least touch on the progress that's been made and what work still needs to be done.
We are encouraged that many of the issues we identified were discussed by the presidential retreat last August.テつ Many have been enacted and some remain under discussion by the various NCAA working groups.テつ We will continue to advocate for change to benefit all student‑athletes.
In the area of student‑athlete well‑being, the vast majority of SEC members supported implementation of multi‑year athletic scholarships that we talked about last year, and now they're permitted under NCAA rules.
It remains important for us to continue to focus on increasing the amount of a full scholarship to provide student‑athletes with financial resources to meet the full cost of attendance.テつ And we also need to eliminate rules, for example, that are hurdles for former student‑athletes to come back after their eligibility is exhausted and if they're committed to getting their degrees, we need to have financial aid rules that allow us to do that.
If you remember, our proposed agenda talked about better academic preparation for the young men and women who come to our institutions.テつ Independent of our ideas, the NCAA acted quickly to adopt some significant change in initial eligibility standards, and they will affect incoming freshmen for the first time in the fall of 2016.テつ It remains very important for the NCAA and all of us to be very careful in considering these requirements and to ensure they are, in fact, the best approach.
We must do everything we can, NCAA, conferences and institutions, to aggressively and fully inform parents, students, teachers, counselors, coaches and administrators in high school that these are very important changes.テつ The message is clear:テつ it is vitally important for young people to begin academic preparation in the ninth grade to ensure initial athletic eligibility in the future.
The good news is that the NCAA's working group is still trying to refine and reduce the NCAA manual.テつ Last year we said we needed to hit the reset button on recruiting rules by focusing only on things that are important.
We recommend permitting the use of text messaging, the language of our student‑athletes, removing hard and fast recruiting calendars to a recruiting person day model, and really regulating only what counts instead of media guide pages, letterhead logos, and now the infamous cream cheese on bagels.
The national Agenda For Reforming is at its heart about integrity.テつ Last week's headlines remind us that we must be ever vigilant on all issues of integrity and that our primary mission is to educate and protect young people.
We must maintain an honest and open dialogue across all levels of university administration.テつ There must be an effective system of checks and balances within the administrative structure to protect all who come in contact with it, especially those who cannot protect themselves.
No one program, no one person, no matter how popular, no matter how successful, can be allowed to derail the soul of an institution.
Now, thinking about the present, and as a point of pride, I do want to take a minute to celebrate our student‑athletes.テつ Not only have they achieved extraordinary accomplishments in athletic competition, but many of them have been honored for excellence in the classroom, and sometimes we have a tendency to overlook that.
42 SEC student‑athletes were named academic All‑Americans this past year, more than any other football bowl subdivision conference; 16 of them earned NCAA postgraduate scholarships.テつ Again, the most of any of the FCS conferences.テつ The eight student‑athletes selected from the entire country who were awarded the NCAA's today top 8 award, three were from the SEC, three of the eight.テつ This award honors student‑athletes for athletic success, academic success, and contributions to the community.
Finally seven SEC student‑athlete earned the NCAA's Elite 89 award.テつ The SEC has 89 championships.テつ This award is given to the student‑athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average in their sports championship.
My point here is that the SEC is as strong in the classroom and in our communities as we are in competition.テつ Our student‑athletes deserve to be honored for those accomplishments.
I continue to be astounded at the quality of our kids both in the classroom and on the fields.
Continuing on in the present, in our storied nearly 80‑year history, Texas A&M and Missouri are only the third and fourth new members of the conference.テつ Both are outstanding academic institutions and members of the American Association of Universities.テつ They support exceptional broad‑based athletic programs with passionate fans and wonderful traditions.テつ They fit.テつ We welcome them into the conference family.
Also a note that in developing our 2012 football schedules, our transition team was able to provide signature home games for their new members' inaugural contests.テつ We're all looking forward to September 8 when A&M hosts Florida and Missouri hosts Georgia.テつ Both will be televised on ESPN and played in front of excited home crowds in College Station and Columbia.
In working with our athletic directors and presidents, it was important to me to recognize that not a single school that didn't give up something, something important, to make this schedule work.テつ And for me, it was an extraordinary exercise in cooperation and exemplifies the unique culture of the Southeastern Conference.
In the area of television, we recently concluded the third year of our 15‑year agreements with ESPN and CBS.テつ The goal of these agreements was to make us the most widely distributed conference in the country, and they have done that.テつ For example, this past year, nearly 430 events were shown on ESPN, supplemented by games on CBS and our two regional television networks.
The early game, as you know, is the SEC Network syndicated package that now reaches 80 million homes and includes such markets as New York, Chicago, Boston and LA, amongst others.
On a Saturday afternoon, it's ESPN's third most widely distributed platform behind only ESPN and ESPN‑2.
Moving to the future.テつ In the play The Tempest, Shakespeare wrote simply, 'What is past is prologue, and that's apropos here.テつ We are venturing into a new era with filled with opportunities, some of which we recognize and some we won't.テつ In terms of expansion and television, this gives us an opportunity to reexamine our television plans.
There has been a whole lot of speculation about Project X.テつ Is it still a secret?テつ I don't think so.テつ But we now call it Project SEC.テつ Our objective long‑term to work with our television partner to provide fans with greater access to favored teams, more opportunities to watch rivals, and more insight into who we are:テつ a conference of 14 great universities.
I'd love to say more.テつ I know you want me to say more.テつ I won't say more.テつ I will, though, before I get too much older and before you get too much older (smiling).
In terms of post‑season football, it's no secret the SEC has supported a 14‑seeded playoff, the four best teams, for several years starting in 2004, when an undefeated Auburn, the SEC champion, was left out of the national championship hunt.
Now we have a 14 playoff.テつ I'm often asked whether the new format is good for the SEC.テつ The answer is unequivocally yes, and it's good for college football at the same time.テつ The commissioner developed this model over a six‑year period with a lot of give‑and‑take.テつ Each of us tried to balance our responsibilities to our league and to the great game of football as a whole.テつ We found ways to come together.
As a result, we are now able to provide student‑athletes and fans with a championship playoff format that not only protects the best regular season in sport, but enhances it.
Lots of work left to be done, that includes the plan for revenue distribution, determining which bowls will be involved, site selection for the national championship game, and the composition of a selection committee.
Speaking of the selection committees, the guidelines the committee will use to rank teams for the post‑season, as Bill Hancock has said often, will include such criteria as one loss record, strength of schedule, conference championships and head‑to‑head competition.
These guidelines will require conferences and institutions to examine their current non‑conference scheduling philosophies balanced against the strength of the conference schedule in which they compete.
I just say a word of thanks to Bill Hancock, BCS executive director, thanks for your patient stewardship throughout this process.テつ I know it wasn't easy.
Now that we have the post‑season format, what else do we have to do?テつ We have to focus our attention on the Champions Bowl.テつ We have a great partner in the Big 12 and will work with them to finalize plans for the inaugural game which will be played in prime time on January 1, 2015.テつ The game is unique because it's owned by the conferences and it will be placed into a bowl yet to be determined.
This new game will provide a great matchup between two leagues that have been the most successful leagues in the BCS and will complement the new post‑season.
Most importantly, however, it will provide our student‑athletes, our coaches, and our fans with another and unique outstanding bowl experience.
So over the next 10 years and the decades beyond, we will continue to find ways to support our student‑athletes, increase player safety, maintain a culture of cooperation and integrity while working to win championships.
Muhammad Ali once said, Champions are made from something they have deep inside of them, a desire, a dream, a division.
Our desire, our dream and our vision for SEC student‑athletes is to continue pushing forward with a pioneering spirit to position them for success on and off the field in the future.テつ We are resting on our laurels.テつ No champion can.
So as I look out here in the crowd, it's great to see so many familiar faces.テつ There's no other media event like this in college sports, or maybe any sport.
But before we kickoff our 80th season, we hope you will tune in and watch the more than 160 current or former SEC student‑athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics.テつ We appreciate each of you being here, thank you for your coverage.テつ Thank you.テつ May the muse be with you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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