July 15, 2014 10:21:49 AM
HOOVER, Ala. -- Mike Slive believes the Southeastern Conference will be at the forefront of significant changes in the college football landscape, and to get his point across, he quoted Eisenhower, Churchill, and Nelson Mandela.
Welcome to SEC Media Days.
The conference's annual unofficial kickoff to football season opened Monday with Slive, the commissioner of the SEC, opening the event with his annual "State of the SEC" address.
Slive's address opened the four-day event, which also featured coaches and representatives from Auburn, Florida, and Vanderbilt. Mississippi State and South Carolina are scheduled for this morning.
Slive talked about a handful of things and provided more information about the SEC Network. He also supported the SEC's new scheduling policies and a push for further autonomy for the SEC and the other four power conferences.
"We have created the initiative to restructure the NCAA in accordance with our vision for the 21st century with the support of student-athletes at its core," Slive said. "Over the last year, we, along with our colleagues at the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac 12, developed this new vision for intercollegiate athletics. It includes the NCAA's enactment of a governing system that will provide greater autonomy for the SEC and other four conferences for the benefit of student-athletes."
Slive said college athletics "must be willing to make appropriate changes," including giving the Big Five conferences autonomy to make their bylaws. The SEC has discussed several changes to the current system, including full cost-of-attendance scholarships and providing long-term medical coverage to college athletes. The NCAA's board of directors will vote on the Big Five's autonomy request in August.
Slive said during the SEC's summer meetings in June that the Big Five -- which also include the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten Conference, the Big 12 Conference, and the Pacific-12 Conference -- would consider forming a "Division IV" if they weren't granted autonomy on some NCAA governance issues. He was optimistic then, and Monday, that the Big Five wouldn't need to do that.
With discussion about the Big Five and issues ranging from a push for athlete unionization at Northwestern to Ed O'Bannon's high-profile lawsuit against the NCAA, Slive said there is pressure on schools to act quickly. He quoted Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States and a five-star general during World War II; Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom; and Nelson Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist who served as president of South Africa from 1994-99; to highlight his points about the rapidly changing world of college athletics.
"The first item on the agenda would be the full cost of attendance. That's clear," Slive said. "Then we'll build from there.
"There is some angst on the part of many, but I think many realize we're moving into the 21st century, things are different and expectations of student-athletes are different. I think when push comes to shove, it will pass."
Slive wants to improve undergraduate education for athletes, to assist athletes with the transition from college life to professional life, and to expand health and wellness for athletes. He also made clear that if the NCAA doesn't amend its policies, the SEC and the other four conferences would look into "the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes."
The SEC Network will debut Aug. 14. Agreements are in place for it to be broadcast on Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse, and a number of smaller cable and satellite providers. Cable and satellite giants Comcast and DirecTV, which represent about 33 million households, haven't reached an agreement with the SEC. Slive said conversations are "ongoing with other major providers."
"Live events will be the focus of the Network," Slive said. "Each Saturday during football season, we will televise three football games, our tripleheaders. By the fourth week of the season, the SEC Network will have originated a game from every stadium in the conference."
The SEC Network will broadcast Mississippi State's season opener against Southern Mississippi.
n In related news, Slive said the Capital One Bowl will have the first selection of available SEC teams after the college football playoff in the league's new bowl agreement. He said the SEC also will place teams in the Belk Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Music City Bowl, Outback Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, and AdvoCare Texas Bowl. The SEC also has agreements with the Birmingham Bowl and the Independence Bowl.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brandon Walker on Twitter @BWonStateBeat.
Reports from The Associated Press were included in this report.
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