DESTIN, Fla. --- Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive said he believes an all-new Division IV would be the result if the proposed NCAA restructuring isn't passed in August.
Slive, wrapping up the SEC's annual spring meetings here at the Sandestin Hilton Resort, emphasized time and again that the league has made clear its preference was to remain in the NCAA's Division I but with autonomous powers granted to the 'big five' conferences of the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and PAC 12.
"I'm not there yet," Slive answered when asked about the hypothetical need to assert the SEC's 'clout,' "but I think what I've said today and the way I've said it today pretty much sets the tone for how I feel. I'm optimistic that we're not going to go to Division IV. If in August the board rejects the steering committee's recommendation, you should call me up."
Slive repeatedly said he was "optimistic" that the restructuring will be adopted at the August meetings and pointed to what he said was approximately 70 percent support in terms of people in favor of or OK with autonomy for the five major conferences. The league wants to put the voting threshold for the restructuring at 60 percent rather than two-thirds, with Slive explaining why that figure mattered. The desire is 60 percent of the autonomy votes and 3 of the 5 conferences for majority.
"I think you need to threshold that gives you enough flexibility to show that there's a mandate but it doesn't have to be a threshold as high as the one sent forth by the committee. And from Day 1 when we saw the threshold, and when you're trying to change direction and when you're trying to implement considerable change, you want to have a threshold that shows a mandate but you don't want to have a threshold that so high that you can't create change."
Slive, punctuating the annual meetings that again included enormous revenue distribution of more than $300 million to its members, reiterated what he called the historic nature of these times and that need for reform within the NCAA's current model.
"From Day 1 we have said we believe the NCAA is the appropriate umbrella organization for intercollegiate athletics. So everything we've done or thought or about has been in the context of being in the NCAA. We want to be in the NCAA and we want to be in Division I. That's certainly my hope that that's how all this works out," Slive said. "Like I said the other day, the collegiate model is not only incredibly important and valuable to our institutions and our student-athletes but it's really part of the DNA of our American culture. It's something that deserves to be protected and it's something deserves to grow and change and evolve in order for it to be preserved for generations to come. …
"Change is hard, and we need to face-up to change. It's going to create a lot of different issues. It's going to create the need to reevaluate how we use our resources, but it is time. Like I said earlier, and maybe I'm the only one saying it, but I do believe this is an historic moment and one that if we don't seize the moment, we're making a mistake."
MONEY MONEY MONEY
While Slive declined to hazard a guess as to what next year's SEC Network presence might do to bolster the league's enormous revenue distribution, he did reference this year's sum of more than $300 million --- or almost exactly $21 million per each of the league's 14 institutions.
While the exact figure of $309.6 million is another record for the league, it also shows virtually no growth and was viewed as basically "flat" from the 2012 year to the '13 calendar. Last year's figure was $304.7 million --- meaning member schools will glean approximately an additional $35,000 this year. As one person noted, that increase is a drop in the bucket in a league with multiple budgets in excess of $100 million.
Still, the league's revenue growth has almost doubled in just five years. The SEC distributed $165.9 million to its 12 members in '09, a few years prior to its most recent expansion to 14 league schools.
The league has adopted the use of a 30-second shot clock in all men's exhibition games for the upcoming season, something Slive said was done at the coaches' request.
Additionally, Dave Hart told VolQuest.com today that his hope is that Tennessee's three basketball rivalries will indeed by Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley told reporters earlier Friday morning that he believed the Vols would join Kentucky and Georgia as the Gators' three rivals.
The SEC did make some changes to the graduate waiver transfer process, most notably allowing schools who wish to accept a graduate transfer with just one year of eligibility the right to do so without obtaining a waiver from the SEC office. However, the league added some stipulations to the rule.
If a team accepts a one-year graduate player who does not then show academic progress in both semesters of his competition year, that team would be barred from accepting any one-year graduate transfers for a period of three years.
MAKE SOME NOISE
The SEC also modified its policy on artificial noisemakers at football games. The proposal was "to permit the use of institutionally-controlled, computerized sound systems (including music), institutionally-controlled artificial noisemakers, and traditional institutional noisemakers at any time, except from the time the offensive center is over the football until the play is whistled dead."
In other words, SEC stadiums should become even louder --- and inside Neyland Stadium, "Sterl the Pearl" is going to be doing even more work.