Around The SEC

Slive: Athlete pay issue won't go away

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive, center
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive, center AP

While dismissing the future of Steve Spurrier’s goal to see college football and men’s basketball players receive more money than other college athletes, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Friday that adding more money to the value of a scholarship is an issue that could eventually divide the NCAA.

“I think it’s very important that we let everyone know that this is an issue that is not going to go away, and we need to satisfy it,” Slive said as the league’s annual meetings wrapped up at the Sandestin Beach Hilton. “Economics cannot be the reason not to do what is in the best interest of the student-athlete. Conferences that have the wherewithal to (pay more) need to have the ability to do that.”

The SEC’s presidents did not discuss creating a subdivision within the NCAA or outside the NCAA that would allow the power five conferences to give more money with their scholarships, Slive said, but the commissioner repeated several times the issue is not going away.

“If we are unable to accomplish something that we think is as important and really not that complicated in a reasonable period of time then I think we should sit down and decide how we go forward,” Slive said.

Spurrier and the football and men’s basketball coaches pushed a plan this week that would add $4,000 to the value of a scholarship for football and men’s basketball players. When asked if the SEC would ever support a plan that gave more money to football and men’s basketball players than other athletes, Slive said, “I would never do anything that is illegal.”

In other news:

-- The SEC issued another record payout Friday, giving $20.7 million to each of its 14 institutions. The total payout of $289.4 million tops last year’s total by more than $40 million.

“Obviously, we passed out a bit of money to our folks, the highest in our history,” Slive said. “We hope to be able to tell you that every year from here on out.”

-- The 2014 football schedule will be released “within a matter of weeks” but the future of the league’s scheduling format likely won’t be decided for another year, Slive said. The 2014 and 2015 schedules will use the 6-1-1 scheduling model (six divisional games, one permanent cross-divisional opponent and one rotating cross-divisional opponent), and the league will decide later whether to go to nine conference games and/or do away with permanent cross-divisional opponents. Slive hopes to have that decision made by the end of these meetings next year, he said.

-- A change is coming to the SEC’s bowl structure if the conference gets its way. The league is renegotiating its deals with all its current bowl partners except the Sugar Bowl and is negotiating with other bowls who are vying to replace the Cotton Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Bowl (which will soon be part of the College Football Playoff semifinal rotation).

Those talks are expected to lead to significant changes in the relationship between the league and the bowls.

“We expect to come to the table with some different ideas than in the past,” Slive said. “We are about ready to put out to the bowls what we see the best way to proceed.”

The SEC is asking for a lower ticket guarantee for its schools, and Slive is “very, very, very optimistic” it will receive those. The conference office also wants more say in which teams go to which bowls.

“Let me put it to you this way, if people aren’t happy with where they go to a bowl game now they blame me so if they are going to blame me, why not have some of the responsibility,” Slive said.

The SEC currently has eight bowl tie-ins and is expected to have nine or 10 in time for the 2013 season.

-- The league did not adopt a conference-wide drug policy and doesn’t appear ready to do in the near future.

“What we have been asked to do is continue to be attentive to the policies on campus,” said Greg Sankey, the SEC’s executive associate commissioner. “We will look at the policies that exist and review them from time to time and one of the requests has been to make sure those are being applied in a consistent manner.”

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