It was quite an eventful first 20 minutes to open the 2013 SEC Media Days as SEC Commissioner Mike Slive had one of the greatest State of the Union Addresses ever presented. Especially when he basically told the NCAA the SEC and most major conferences don’t really need you anymore.
“What is the proper role, function and composition and size of the NCAA board of directors,” Slive said during his state of the conference address. “Do we need all of the services provided by the NCAA’s national office, its many committees and task forces, or are some of these services better provided elsewhere. And how do we streamline the NCAA committee and legislative processes to provide leaders and visionaries who will ensure the NCAA’s future. In the words of James Baldwin, not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
That’s right. And it gets even better.
“Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, early recruiting, club sports, cell phones, Internet access, distance learning, 3-D printers will continue to become more and more commonplace,” Slive said. “The current regulatory approach (of the NCAA) would be more at home in the era of Johann Gutenberg’s printing press than in our current fast-paced technology-driven society and will no longer serve to functionally govern recruiting behaviors moving forward. As Albert Einstein once said, We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
And folks that is coming from a 70-something man who has been at the forefront of changing College Football as we know it as head of the SEC.
But he was far from being done.
“In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt provided the incentive for the creation of the NCAA,” Slive added. “His leadership and his commitment to his philosophy of the strenuous life, as he called it, demonstrated the belief still present today that the uniquely American combination of athletic competition and higher education does, indeed, have a place on our university campuses. It’s made abundantly clear by all of you being here today, college athletics has grown to become an integral part not only of education, but of the American life and the American culture. In order to deal with these and other national issues in an effective way, intercollegiate athletics requires remarkable and innovative leadership to slash through our Gordian knot. Our challenges are complex, they always have been, and they always will be.”
Slive has had quite an agenda for the NCAA and the SEC for the past few years but really began to an agent of leadership for change. At the SEC Spring Meeting the conference addressed four areas that needed immediate attention from the NCAA. Slive alluded to those again today.
“Following this year’s spring meetings in Destin, I wrote President Mark Emmert on behalf of SEC presidents and chancellors to communicate our view that it was important and necessary in the area of concussions for the NCAA to lead, organize and spearhead a four-part national effort,” Slive said. “One, to conduct further scientific research on cushions. Two, determine and refine best practices and standards of care for the prevention and treatment of concussions. Three, disseminate information to NCAA member institutions and others with an interest in the health and safety of athletes. And, four, continue to review and revise playing rules in football and other sports as new research and new information on concussions becomes available as we revise and refine best practices. The point here is that the issue of concussions is not limited to one conference or one region. We all share the concern about the overall health of college football and its participants across the entire country and within each NCAA division.”
That was but just a few minutes of words from the address Slive gave today. It was spot on and it is nice to see that the conference that is providing the best product on the field is also taking steps to keep its players safe while making sure the NCAA is evolving for the betterment of all.
The ball is now in your court NCAA. Do us all a favor and respond.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.