SEC football media days: SEC Commissioner Mike Slive proposes changes to NCAA

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 21, 2011 

HOOVER, Ala. -- Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive called for significant changes in college athletics Wednesday.

In a speech to open the annual SEC football media days, Slive outlined four areas in which improvements need to be made:

Redefining benefits/scholarships.

Strengthening academic requirements for incoming freshmen and junior college transfers.

Modernizing recruiting rules.

Improving NCAA enforcement.

“As we look forward to the upcoming season, as anxious as we are and as excited as we are, we don’t have the luxury of acting as if it’s business as usual,” Slive said. “And that’s been made clear by the headlines emanating from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Gulf to the Great Lakes. As NCAA president Mark Emmert has observed, the events giving rise to these headlines indicate that intercollegiate athletics has lost the benefit of the doubt.

“… This agenda is not a panacea, nor is it intended to offer a solution to every problem. It does, however, identify several key issues we believe need attention.”

Cost of attendance

Slive called for student-athletes to receive the full cost of attendance.

“Cost of attendance is not a term invented by conference commissioners, but it is an educationally based, commonly accepted standard that can be properly administered with each university’s financial aid office,” Slive said.

Cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board and personal items, including transportation. According to the NCAA, “full athletic scholarships do not exceed tuition and fees, room, board, and required course-related books.”

The additional expense of providing cost of attendance as opposed to a full athletic scholarship would be about $3,000 per athlete.

“The first step is to develop a plan to provide these additional benefits to student-athletes in an equitable manner through a redefined grant-in-aid program linked to the full cost of attendance,” Slive said. “We recognize that this proposal may be a financial hardship on some, yet at the same time economics cannot always be the reason to avoid doing what is in the best interests of our student-athletes.”

Slive also said that there should be discussion about making scholarships multiyear awards as opposed to the single-year awards they are now. He added that schools should leave the door open for those who want to return to school and earn a degree. And he wants student-athletes who want to become professional athletes to receive “expert advice they need on a timely basis.”

Freshman eligibilty

Slive outlined three components to changing the way freshmen are evaluated from an academic standpoint.

Slive said the minimum grade-point average for freshman eligibility should be raised from 2.0 to 2.5 in the 16 required core courses. He also wants a process developed to establish annual satisfactory progress in high school.

“This would require prospective student-athletes to take and pass a required number of core courses in each of his or her four years of high school in order to participate in athletic competition during the first year of college enrollment,” Slive said.

The last part of his academic plan was to bring back the admittance of so-called “partial qualifiers.” Those students would not be allowed to play as freshmen.

Recruiting

Slive proposed several changes to the recruiting rules that are in place. One would allow use of modern technology and social media as a way for a coach to communicate with a recruit. The second one calls for simplifying the recruiting calendar. The third would force all recruiting to be done at the recruit’s school.

“We seek to hold the historic approach to recruiting through the scholastic setting rather than through third parties and so-called ‘handlers.’ ” Slive said. “For this reason, the SEC has submitted national legislation prohibiting institutions from hosting, sponsoring, or conducting non-scholastic football events at any location on or off campus.”

NCAA manual

Slive called on the NCAA to produce a streamlined NCAA manual that governs only enforceable issues.

“A lot has been said over the last several years about the risk-and-reward approach to recruiting,” Slive said. “That’s focused on the definition of violations as either major or secondary. Any behavior that results in a violation is always a problem and always a concern. But we have become increasingly aware that these two limited definitions may not adequately distinguish the actions associated with the violation.

“President Emmert and his staff are evaluating these labels with the goal of ensuring that an intentional violation is addressed in an appropriate category with appropriate sanctions.”

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