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SEC commissioner talks long-range view in Trussville

By Tina Tidmore

For The Tribune

At last week’s Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce meeting, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive said the conference is concerned about making decisions today that will put it in a good place 10 years later.

“It’s our job to think ahead,” Slive said.

To that end, he explained many of the recent decisions that are bringing changes to the SEC, primarily the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri. He said that he had no thoughts of expanding the SEC, but when these two asked, “we took a long-term view to position the league to stay on the top of the game.”

Mike Slive

Slive declined to answer if other schools asked about joining the SEC.

Slive is working to make sure the transition to the four-team playoff for championship football games is smooth. A selection committee will replace the current system in choosing four teams to play in the playoffs. How and who chooses this committee has not yet been decided.

Starting in 2015, the Sugar Bowl will be played prime-time after the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, Slive announced. He said he hopes the Sugar Bowl can develop the same reputation as the Rose Bowl. The preliminary game to the championship game will be on New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve, with the championship game always being the following Monday night.

Slive told of the little-known symposium held Feb. 12-14 in Atlanta. The SEC website says the purpose was to “afford its faculty members and standout students a prestigious academic platform from which to present and discuss their research and scholarly accomplishments.” The theme for this year’s symposium was “Impact of the Southeast in the World’s Renewable Energy Future.”

“It’s not just about athletics,” Slive said. “It’s athletics as a part of education.”

The popularity of SEC football has also been a benefit to other sports, Slive said. Revenue from football can be put to other sports, such as volleyball, so these athletes can also gain the educational benefits from athletic competition.

While sharing how the SEC is preparing for the future, Slive also took a look back. He said in the last 10 years, minorities and women in coaching roles have increased.

“We like to think of ourselves as the place of opportunities,” he said. “In order to be as good as we can be, we must be diverse.”

Slive told how the Birmingham area benefits from the SEC with the headquarters in the city since 1948. Plus, the SEC Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel brings attention to the area. SEC tournaments, such as the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, also highlight the metropolitan area.

Although the SEC history in Birmingham goes back 65 years, the beginning of the SEC goes back even further, to 1933. At that time, Slive said, the nation was in a deep depression and bread cost only eight cents.

“Times have changed,” he said. “Sports has become a regional and national obsession. We’re a part of that, thank goodness.”

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