The profile of the SEC soon will rise dramatically in Charlotte.
With the league entering a six-year agreement with Bank of America Stadium’s Belk Bowl starting next season and the new SEC Network starting in 2014 out of ESPN’s studios in Ballantyne, Charlotte will become a regular destination for league officials and fans.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive was in town Monday to speak to Belk employees at the company’s corporate headquarters (where Belk CEO Tim Belk also announced the company will continue as the bowl’s title sponsor through 2019). Slive spoke with the Observer about the SEC’s relationship with Charlotte, how he feels about college football’s new playoff and what needs to be done to fix college sports.
Q. What does it mean that the SEC has such a strong relationship with Charlotte – despite the league not having a school in North Carolina?
A. Once the smoke cleared (with recent conference realignment) and we were comfortable with 14 schools, we looked to how we could have a presence in North Carolina. The quality of the Belk Bowl gave us a good opportunity. And developing the SEC Network is so important to us.
Q. The Bowl Championship Series has been good to the SEC, with six straight championships and seven of the past eight. Are you unhappy with the four-team playoff that will take its place after the 2014 season?
A. Well, Auburn in 2004 was undefeated and didn’t make the (national championship) game, so it didn’t serve us well then. So, as happy as we’ve been with the BCS, I’m glad there’s a playoff.
Q. You’ve been a proponent of measured change, advocating stipends for athletics, new recruiting rules and re-structuring the NCAA’s board of governors. Why is that important?
A. Well, I believe the NCAA should be under one umbrella. At the same time, I strongly believe we need to make structural changes in the NCAA to help make it more relevant and more timely to meet the needs of the 21st century. The NCAA is still grounded in ways from 30 or 40 years ago. But we need a big tent. We don’t want to change the NCAA basketball tournament, we want the revenue distributions to stay the same, we wanted shared governance.
Q. What do you think is the biggest threat right now?
A. Agents. We’ve got a lot to deal with there.
Q. What about having super conferences, culling teams from the “power” five leagues now?
A. You have never seen that idea floated by the NCAA or anybody from any of those leagues. From the media? Yes.