published Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Mike Slive 'not resting' on decade of SEC dominance

This image made July 12, 2012 shows Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive posed at the SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.
This image made July 12, 2012 shows Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive posed at the SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.
Photo by Associated Press.

HOOVER, Ala. -- Though he admits he prefers to keep his focus on the future, Mike Slive went digging into his past.

The look back resulted in the discovery of his notes from his first news conference as the Southeastern Conference's commissioner 10 years ago.

"I went back and looked at ... what I said that year," Slive said Tuesday afternoon to open the SEC's annual football media days at the Wynfrey Hotel. "It wasn't very impressive."

What his league has done since has been a completely different story.

In Slive's decade-long reign atop the nation's best athletic conference, the SEC boasts an ongoing run of six consecutive football titles and 62 national championships in 16 of the conference's 20 sponsored sports. The league won nine titles -- five in women's sports -- with seven second-place finishes in the 2011-12 academic year alone.

In his 20-minute address to a packed room, Slive, who turns 72 next week, outlined how his conference has met and surpassed his initial goals: improving academic performance, maintaining competitive success, ensuring diversity and opportunity, protecting athletic departments' financial security and avoiding NCAA infractions cases.

"How far we've come," Slive said. "The league can take satisfaction in knowing that together we have made substantial progress in each of these challenges. We did it faster than many expected. We did it while educating great student-athletes and continuing to win championships."

The commissioner even quoted Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare and Muhammad Ali in his address. Slive has become one of college football's most powerful and influential figures, and the SEC's success under him goes beyond the stadiums and arenas.

When Slive took over in 2002, there were no minority head coaches at any league school. A decade later, there are 15 minority coaches in football and men's and women's basketball, including half of the league's 14 men's basketball coaches. The SEC also had 42 Academic All-Americans last year.

Slive told The Associated Press on Monday that he has agreed to run the SEC for "at least a couple more years," and he'll spend that time continuing to push his conference forward. There are details to finalize -- such as revenue distribution and the selection process and locations -- with college football's new four-team playoff system, which Slive said was "unequivocally good" for his league and all of college football. There also could be adjustments or tweaks to SEC's television deal with ESPN and CBS, which is entering its fourth year.

"While we take satisfaction in all this progress," Slive said, "we must continue to be creative, innovative and think outside the box. We are not resting on our laurels. No champion can."

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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