How to clean up college sports? Lend an ear to Mike Slive

Commissioner Slive after delivering his mandate for change. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Mike Slive after delivering his mandate. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Hoover, Ala. – No man in college athletics has a bullier pulpit than Mike Slive. He’s the commissioner of the SEC, which plays the best football, which is the sport that pays most of the bills. And say this for the commish: From that pulpit, he’s trying to make a difference.

What’s usually an annual exercise in chest-thumping — the SEC Media Days, which actually run the better part of a workweek — began with Slive addressing the elephant in the room. (And by this we don’t mean Alabama’s mascot.) He mentioned the rash of ugly offseason headlines that have emanated “from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Gulf to the Great Lakes.” He quoted NCAA president Mark Emmert as having said: “Intercollegiate athletics have lost the benefit of the doubt.”

We pause here to note that, because of what he represents, Slive risks being seen as the world’s biggest hypocrite. A team from the SEC won the 2010 BCS title using a player a lot of folks couldn’t believe was allowed to play.  Even if the NCAA never unearths one shred of evidence indicating that Auburn did anything wrong, its championship will be remembered as Cam Newton’s, and Cam Newton will, rightly or wrongly, be seen as another reminder that the SEC came to be the nation’s biggest league by pushing the envelope the hardest.

Slive began his address by mentioning that “fifth consecutive BCS title” (though not Auburn by name), and then he stopped bragging and started preaching. He unveiled his four-pronged Agenda For Change, and doggone if it didn’t make great good sense. Which could well mean it has no chance of being adopted, but let’s save that discussion for another day. The four points:

• The concept of “benefits” needs to be redefined, even if means upping the value of a scholarship to reflect “the  full value of [college] attendance.” (Meaning: Everybody else is getting rich off college football; should the players not reap some reward?)

• Academic rules need to be strengthened, even if it means a return to the days of the “partial qualifier.” (Meaning: A freshman could be placed on scholarship but would be ineligible to play until he proves himself academically over a full collegiate year.)

• Recruiting rules should be changed — “It’s time to press the reset button,” Slive said — to reflect reality. (Meaning: Trivial violations, like an excess of text-messaging, wouldn’t be used as stand-ins for the serious stuff.)

• The NCAA’s efforts to ratchet up enforcement must be supported. (Meaning: If you get in trouble, you cooperate. Say hello, Georgia Tech.)

Some folks will see this as a classic bit of doublespeak: The man whose conference was represented by Cam Newton — whose name Slive did not utter — is going all evangelical? Cry me another river while you’re banking that BCS money. But Slive could have said nothing more than, “Thanks for your interest in the best college football in America” and walked off the stage. He didn’t. He said what needed to be said in a way that made you think that maybe there’s hope for this smelly ol’ sport after all.

This doesn’t mean the SEC is going to get clean overnight. Where there’s competition, there will be advantages to be seized. But it’s worth noting that schools from this conference seem to have heeded Slive’s long-stated demand that cooperation with the NCAA is not optional. (Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton fired basketball coach Bruce Pearl and resigned himself ahead of the Vols’ meeting with the committee on infractions, and the NCAA, in announcing one year’s probation for LSU on Tuesday, made special mention of the zeal with which the Tigers sought to uncover the truth.)

We’ve had a whole offseason to wring our hands over the excesses of college athletics. The SEC commissioner pointed the way toward autumn by making the case that there might — might, I said — be a way upward and onward. Good for him.

By Mark Bradley

99 comments Add your comment

TD Mike

July 20th, 2011
3:06 pm

Chi Town

July 20th, 2011
3:08 pm

Mark Bradley

July 20th, 2011
3:09 pm

TD Mike, you’re kudo’ed.

TD Mike

July 20th, 2011
3:10 pm

Thanks, Mark! Love your work

EW

July 20th, 2011
3:11 pm

RTR

July 20th, 2011
3:12 pm

Slive nailed it and so did you Bradley!

JJ

July 20th, 2011
3:13 pm

He’s just doing his job. And yes, he does LOOK like a hypocrite. But you are right Mark, it doesn’t change the fact that he makes some good points.

headley lamar

July 20th, 2011
3:15 pm

Have Tech stop lying and cheating twice in ten years would be a start.

1453 more days on probation.

4 Tickets 4 Hot Dogs 4 Cokes 4 Years on Probation

Just Me

July 20th, 2011
3:17 pm

You are kidding right? Slive and the SEC cheat as much or more than most. He has a plan that will never put into action. The SEC is on top in making money and will not risk losing that edge by cleaning up the league.

Scott Proctor

July 20th, 2011
3:18 pm

Bradely has a rubber arm.

Gbal

July 20th, 2011
3:18 pm

First page!!!

tiger down

July 20th, 2011
3:21 pm

when will the ncaa do the job and strip the corrupt auburn program of its tainted title, bought and paid for by fatcat auburn boosters? where’s that $200,000?

Please Move Along

July 20th, 2011
3:24 pm

The concept of “benefits” needs to be redefined, even if means upping the value of a football scholarship to reflect “the full value of [fan] attendance.”

I already thought the SEC was paying their players, guess they’re all getting raises.

I'm over it.

July 20th, 2011
3:24 pm

That’s it. I’m done with college football. Every program cheats so that 50-year-old men who never grew up can have something to distract them from their miserable lives. Just look at Bradley’s bloggers– pathetic (First!, Well, kudos to you).

College football sucks. Give me the NFL.

Born2Buzz

July 20th, 2011
3:25 pm

The SEC should just admit that it’s semi-pro, get rid of Vandy, take on as many other football factory schools that want to be semi-pro (Texas, Ohio State, etc) and withdraw from the NCAA. I’m sure they will get about 20 teams and I’m sure ESPN will gladly pay them for all of their games and a championship game.
Then the rest of college football can get back to intercollegiate athletics where student athletes play sports for the right to get a college education, not for the hopes of making it in the next level.

jumbo dumbo gumbo

July 20th, 2011
3:26 pm

you mean Mike Slease of the south eastern chumps

Born2Buzz

July 20th, 2011
3:26 pm

Oh, and headley, go F yourself.

DC

July 20th, 2011
3:29 pm

I dont know what they are waiting on with regards to upping the kids scholarships…being a student athlete is a 365 deal…there is no time to have a part time job and NCAA needs to understand that and up the number. That will cure many of the problems…not all..but many.

JoeFan

July 20th, 2011
3:29 pm

College sports especially on the BCS / Division I level are just the minor leagues for professional teams. Let the pros compensate the colleges for providing the coaching and facilities. Then pay each player enough to cover college expenses plus money on which to live. Each year the player completes toward his or her degree earns the player more compensation for the following year until the player is either drafted or completes a degreee program. The colleges will draft players from high school senior classes each year. The number of which will determined by the particular sport. As a result recruiting problems go away and so does the NCAA.

jumbo dumbo gumbo

July 20th, 2011
3:32 pm

does anyone at your paper have any guts whatsoever? Cowardness runs rampant. Why can’t one of you call the NCAA and ask them about the severe sanctions placed on GT for such nonsense? And how do they think whast GT supposedly did was not okay but Auburn’s cr@p was just fine? You know big shot, you could not point the fingers and accuse GT fast enough but write an article about Slivebag and the biggest criminal conference in the country and think your somebody as a reporter. Macon Telegraph has you dumbos beat by a mile.

Your goal in life is to try and place all your own SHAME on GT when you are the f_____ shameful loser.

[...] sportsNOLA.comSEC Commissioner Slive opens 2011 SEC Media Days with call for changeRed and BlackAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Chattanooga Times Free Pressall 323 news [...]

Ron Burgundy

July 20th, 2011
3:37 pm

Stay classy Bradley and Slive

Dumbwoody Mom

July 20th, 2011
3:38 pm

jumbo dumbo gumbo sounds mad!

Just Me

July 20th, 2011
3:46 pm

Nothing will change until colleges only get Students that deserve to be in school. Stop Recruiting Morons but because they can play a game. Let the Morons find their own way to the NFL not at the expense of my child getting in the college of their choosing. Caleb king took the space for a REAL Student for years at UGA. As a Tax payer that pi$$es me off.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 20th, 2011
3:46 pm

@ I’m over it

Yeah the NFL is sooooooo much more cleaner than college athletics. Lets list them off…

Adam Jones (13 arrests mind you)
Kenny Britt
James Harrison (Double gun salute, real classy)
Travis Henry (in prison for coke dealing, 10 kids by 11 women)
Cedric Benson
Donte Stallworth

The list goes on and on with NFL players doing incredibly stupid things that find themselves on the wrong side of the law. This list didn’t even include Vick, Burress or Rae Carruth. Just go and look at all the off the field issues since the lockout. The NFL has much more of a image problem than College Football.

Spartan

July 20th, 2011
3:48 pm

Georgia Tech vs The NCAA, aka Arrogance vs Arrogance

DC

July 20th, 2011
3:49 pm

Just me,….these kids would go to the NFL if they could…but with NFL stipulations thats not possible…so they go in the college system…and lets be honest Caleb King didn’t take a spot from a typical college kid..he took a spot from another STUDENT ATHLETE…

Richt`s Hammer

July 20th, 2011
3:51 pm

Glad they didn`t find the black underwear the dawgs are wearing this year. Who knows what the NCAA would do with that.

Uh, lowcountry...

July 20th, 2011
3:52 pm

…aren’t your comments the same as “calling the kettle black”?

midtown

July 20th, 2011
3:54 pm

After some of the decision this guy has made lately, he is lucky to have a job
instead of moralizing what college athletics needs to do.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

techfan

July 20th, 2011
3:56 pm

Sorry, but ill believe it when I see it. Much like oversigning, nothing significant will ever happen. He knows why his conference has a competitive advantage and he is not going to risk that.

Just Me

July 20th, 2011
3:56 pm

DC
these Student Athletes don’t have to go to college to play in the NFL. They have to be a certain age to be drafted, but they don’t have to go to college. They could try the new football league. I am not sure of their age requirements. They could just go to the workout people most college go to after the season anyway. Get an Agent out of high school and just develop their skills.
That is my point King did take a spot from a typical college kid. If the Student Athlete isn’t good enough to beat out a REAL student then they should not be offered a Grant in Aid.

Quote of the day

July 20th, 2011
3:59 pm

Mark,

Joe Shad tweeted “Slive wants to raise GPA requirement to 2.5. The Sun Belt is going to have some AWESOME defensive tackles in 2016.”

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 20th, 2011
4:02 pm

Not for sure what your point is but for a fan to say they are finished watching college ball because essentially the NFL is a cleaner product is pretty naive.

Quote of the day

July 20th, 2011
4:02 pm

Schad, sorry!

Just Me

July 20th, 2011
4:03 pm

The SEC is like Congress. Yes, Universal healthcare for the people, but we are not giving up our healthcare for damn sure. We know what is best for everybody but we will not do it first to prove it is good for everybody else. Slive give it up. You institute harsher penalties on your members first and maybe the rest of college football will follow. Leaders do by ACTIONS not candyazz words used for media sound bites.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Mike

July 20th, 2011
4:04 pm

If they want better GPA, they better start looking at expansion again. How many years have Silve have left?

Academics

July 20th, 2011
4:05 pm

95% of the players at these football factories are admitted under special rules, not available to regular applicants. Most can barely read or write a sentence but somehow get admitted to great academic universities, while great students are denied. The whole system is corrupt to the core, but because coaches, ADs and other administrators make millions, nothing will change.

Just Me

July 20th, 2011
4:08 pm

Here is one more idea. After the players commit make the college pay for them to take the SAT again. The whole freshman class together with the college admissions officer watching and verify the actual player is taking the test.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 20th, 2011
4:09 pm

Not for sure sure point but when someone says they are finished watching College football because essentially the NFL is a cleaner product is a little naive.

Just Me

July 20th, 2011
4:14 pm

Lowcountry Bulldawg
good call. The NFL player has money and thinks they can do whatever they want. College players are broke and shouldn’t be able to get into too much trouble. They still do, but nothing like the NFL players do.

dap01

July 20th, 2011
4:17 pm

Cam: “I let my Dad chose my college”.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

the real headley lamar

July 20th, 2011
4:34 pm

rduck

July 20th, 2011
4:35 pm

This just in…. Mark Bradley slurps on the SEC’s toes. You are rapidly beginning to show your true colors Bradley. Anyone who would take Mr. Slive’s words and embrace them as genuine has to be one of two things…. 1. really dumb and ignorant or 2. his sleepover play pal… you decide

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

shamoo

July 20th, 2011
4:45 pm

How about ask the NFL owners to start a minor league team in medium size cities for each of the NFL franchises so the players have an option to be paid to play with hopes of making the NFL or the option to go get a degree and play college football. The same way baseball is doing it.

T3

July 20th, 2011
4:46 pm

Bobby Dodd pulled GT out of the SEC in 1964 because he was bitterly opposed
to what the SEC was becoming then, and what the SEC has CLEARLY become today:

A plantation system.

A plantation system so completely corrupted with

1. Financial corruption
2. Politically corrupted state Boards of Regents
3. Purposely watered-down academics
4. Recruitment and Use of illiterate athletes
5. A clearly financially and ethically corrupted NCAA

ALL done for the EXPLICIT purpose of generating revenue for the Athletic Associations,
and now, media outlets.

Do I exaggerate?

Dr. Leroy Ervin was the former UGA Director of Remedial Learning and
a UGA Assistant University Vice-President.

Here are his EXACT words on UGA’s recruitment and play
of academcially deficient student athletes:

“Now, you talk about [how] these kids are not taught in high school. They aren’t. We try to teach them here, but there is no way to do it. The majority of these kids are black that are coming in.
I know for a fact that these kids would not be here if it were not for their utility to the institution. There is no real sound academic reason for their being here other than to be utilized to produce income. They are used as a kind of raw material in the production of some goods to be sold…and they get nothing in return….”

READ THAT AGAIN:

“There is no real sound academic reason for their being here
other than to be utilized to produce income.”

History also shows similar situation at Tennessee, Alabama, MIssissippi, and Auburn.
Dont forget, Auburn almost lost it’s Accrediation as a UNIVERSITY becasue of corruption that spilled over form the Atheltics Association.

There you have it. Undeniable proof of how UGA and the rest of the SEC really works.