Some Southeastern Conference spring meetings have been more memorable than others, and this week's event in Destin, Fla., has the potential to pack an emotional punch.
Mike Slive will preside over the SEC meetings for the 13th and final time as league commissioner, having announced last October that he will be stepping down in July. Slive's announcement coincided with the 74-year-old having to begin chemotherapy treatments due to a recurrence of prostate cancer.
The SEC meetings begin today and end Friday, when Slive will announce another record revenue distribution. Whether that will be a tear-jerking moment remains unknown.
"That's a really good question that I can't answer right now," SEC associate commissioner Herb Vincent said. "If you look at his schedule, he is fully engaged for these meetings. There is work to do, and he is feeling really good. He is not doing his chemo treatments any more, and he has been back in the office going full speed.
"Going into these meetings, it is business as usual, but in the back of everyone's minds, they know this is his last one."
There is no shortage of topics that will be discussed this week, including cost of attendance developing from the autonomy of the power five conferences, satellite camps, freshman eligibility and first-year reviews of the SEC Network and the College Football Playoff.
SEC presidents in March determined that Greg Sankey, the league's chief operating officer, would succeed Slive on Aug. 1. Sankey has been with the league for 13 years, but this week will be about his outgoing boss.
"The presidents and chancellors made it very clear that I am the commissioner," Slive told reporters last week in Birmingham. "As a matter of fact, now that I am getting further and further away from chemo, I'm getting more and more feisty. I don't hold back on my opinions.
"Over 13 years, Greg and I have consulted on all major decisions. There's really nothing different going on now than has gone on for the last 13 years."
Slive was appointed as the seventh SEC commissioner on June 2, 2002. He replaced Roy Kramer, who invited Arkansas and South Carolina to join a 10-member conference in 1992 and established two six-team divisions whose winners met in a groundbreaking football league championship.
Kramer also founded the Bowl Championship Series to better determine college football's champion. He left some huge shoes for Slive to fill.
Yet in Slive's regime, the league experienced an unprecedented run of athletic and financial success. The SEC won seven consecutive BCS championships from 2006 to 2012, with Alabama claiming three titles, Florida two, and Auburn and LSU one each.
The league expanded from 12 to 14 teams in 2012, when Missouri and Texas A&M came aboard, but Slive's most lasting imprint likely will be the creation of the SEC Network last August. Enjoying the most successful launch in cable television history, the SEC Network is expected to help each league school receive at least $11 million more than last spring in revenue sharing.
"His leadership and direction for this conference has been monumental," LSU football coach Les Miles said last fall on an SEC teleconference. "In his 13 years much has been accomplished, and the national strength that the conference has pushed into the football landscape has really been through his direction. We've grown in revenue, positioned ourselves for national games and bowl games, and he's kind of led the view of the power five self-autonomy, which has become a reality."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.