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Former SEC Commissioner Mike Slive passes away at 77

17 May, 2018, 16:17 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
  • Former SEC Commissioner Mike Slive passes away at 77

He led the adoption of a new and effective league-wide NCAA compliance initiative, engineered landmark television contracts, including the launch of the SEC Network, and guided the conference through expansion, welcoming two new institutions. On a personal level, it has been one of the great privileges of my life to have known Commissioner Slive and to have closely observed his leadership, his kindness, and his nurturing spirit. The Southeastern Conference did not provide the cause of death.

Born July 26, 1940, Slive was a native of Utica, N.Y., and graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962. He later became partner in a law firm in Chicago before turning toward sports and sports management.

"He was a friend before he was the boss, he was a friend while he was the boss, he was a friend after", SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who replaced Slive, told the SEC Network. He arrived having founded the Great Midwest Conference and Conference USA, and his first task as SEC chief was cleaning up a league riddled by rules violations. After four years, the forerunner to Conference USA expanded and rebranded after the 1995 season.

Certainly, Slive's responsibilities extended beyond the SEC. By the end of his 14-year reign in charge of the conference, Slive had stepped out and cast his own outsized shadow over the college football world.

During Slive's tenure at the SEC, he developed initiatives created to maintain and improve the SEC's preeminent position in intercollegiate athletics, both on and off the fields of play. Slive's reign as the BCS coordinator came right as the system was expanding to introduce a fifth stand-alone championship game. During that time, the conference produced seven consecutive national champions in college football from 2006-2012.

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To Slive, the SEC was much more than a football league. SEC football became a must-see event during Slive's tenure, and it's unlikely that another conference will match the SEC's former run anytime soon. Increased opportunities for SEC teams to earn titles also meant that the door was open for any (major-conference) powerhouse to play their way in.

"When we first came, we were mired in a lot of infractions cases", Slive said in 2014 as a guest of "Press Row" on Chattanooga's ESPN 105.1 FM. Today we all lost a friend.

Slive is survived by his wife of 49 years, Liz; his daughter Anna and granddaughter Abigail. But Slive is also survived by the conference he helped build into the preeminent force in college football. He first formally proposed the idea of a four-team playoff for college football in 2008, but it was shot down by most of the other conference commissioners.

For a man who served in a position that drew a lot of ire, Slive remained a man of integrity throughout his career.

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