SEC pushing for changes with NCAA

HOOVER, Ala. — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive took time away from bragging about his thriving league to point out that “important questions need to be answered” about how the NCAA governs college athletics.

Slive used part of his annual address opening SEC media days Tuesday to reiterate his push for athletes to receive a scholarship that covers the total cost of attendance and stress the importance nationally of “innovative leadership to slash through our Gordian knot.”

He said the SEC still supports the NCAA’s role in governing college athletics, but he questioned the makeup and role of the NCAA’s board of directors and called for changes to the governing body’s structure to ensure major roles for school and league administrators and coaches.

However, the longtime commissioner is “bullish on the fact that this is being talked about now.” Slive declined to offer specific suggestions for change.

Slive went on the offensive in pushing change and reiterated proposals he made in Hoover two years ago, including boosting financial aid for athletes, upgrading recruiting rules to fit the new technology and social media and increasing academic eligibility requirements for incoming freshmen and transfers.

“Yeah, I pushed the agenda,” Slive said after speaking at the podium. “I think this is an important time, and it’s a time when I think we all want to make sure that we have the kind of processes and governance that will help us work through the Gordian knot that I mentioned.

“We will continue to push for those issues such as full cost of attendance that we have been talking about now for two years. That’s a long time to be waiting.”

He noted that multi-year scholarships and rules helping former athletes to return to school represent progress.

“These are important changes and they are in fact helpful, but the NCAA has not been successful meeting the full cost of attendance for our student-athletes, whether it’s through the so-called miscellaneous expense allowance or some other model that provides board access to additional funds,” Slive said.

“Conferences and their member institutions must be allowed to meet the needs of their student-athletes. From recent conversations with my commissioner colleagues there appears to be a willingness to support a meaningful solution to this important change.”

Slive emptied his “annual brag bag” for a conference that has won the past seven BCS national titles and had teams representing half of the Top 10 at the end of the last season. He also addressed off-the-field issues that include the arrest of former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez, who has been charged in the June killing of Boston semi-pro athlete Odin Lloyd. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.

Heisman Trophy-winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who takes the podium on Wednesday, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor stemming from a 2012 bar fight close to campus. LSU running back Jeremy Hill pleaded guilty to misdemeanor simple battery earlier this week after being arrested in June for a fight in a bar parking lot.

“We cannot ignore the recent off-the-field incidents involving both current and former student athletes,” Slive said. “Not all student-athletes fulfill the high expectations we have for them. While the negative actions of the few garner headlines, the fact is that the vast majority of these young people conduct themselves appropriately.

“Notwithstanding the fact that our institutions have mechanisms in place to recognize problems, support systems to address personal issues, policies to provide implementation of discipline and the willingness to enforce these policies — it is a crushing disappointment when despite all these efforts a young person throws away the opportunity for a promising future.”

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