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    SEC Q&A: Larry Templeton, Transition Team Chair

    By: Sean Cartell
    SEC Digital Network

    Missouri and the SEC
    Texas A&M and the SEC
    SEC Releases 2012 Conference Football Schedule

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --  Beginning July 1, 2012, the Southeastern Conference will fully integrate new members Missouri and Texas A&M into its 14-member format for the 2012-13 academic year. In an effort to ensure the smooth integration of the conference’s two new members, Commissioner Mike Slive assembled a transition team to manage all related issues.

    Larry Templeton, chair of the transition team, sat down with the SEC Digital Network to discuss the charges and accomplishments of the transition team in this SEC Q&A.

    SEC Digital Network: What is the makeup of the SEC transition team and what charges did Commissioner Slive give you moving forward with this process?

    Larry Templeton
    : “The transition team makeup was based primarily on the executive leadership of the conference staff primarily as it related to several specific areas, such as: finance, rules and governance, scheduling and television. Mark Womack, Greg Sankey, Mark Whitworth and I serve as the SEC transition team. Each of the two institutions has a transition team on their campus. Penny King serves as the Texas A&M chair and Tim Hickman serves as the chair at Missouri. We have been to both institutions for the initial media welcome to the conference. We have had both of their leadership teams to Birmingham. A small group of us have been to both of their campuses. The next step will be for us to carry a large group of SEC staff to both institutions to visit with not only their staff, but with their coaches.”

    SEC Digital Network: How much of your time has been devoted to scheduling issues, and how did you go about putting together the 2012 SEC football schedule?

    Larry Templeton:
    “The most time-consuming process has been scheduling contests in all sports for 2012 and 2013. We were way down the road with the scheduling of 13 teams when we had accepted Texas A&M and were close to asking the athletics directors to approve a 2012 football schedule with 13 teams. The Commissioner came to us and said ‘timeout, it’s 14 teams.’ So, we put all of that in the file cabinet and then began the process for 14 teams. As you would imagine, there was considerable time spent on providing a 2012 football schedule that incorporated eight conference games for both Texas A&M and Missouri."

    "That process was an unbelievable give-and-take of the membership of this conference. We moved from a 12-team schedule, 56 SEC-SEC playing dates and we moved 52 SEC non-conference playing dates among our membership to incorporate a schedule for Texas A&M and Missouri for 2012. There wasn’t a single institution that didn’t give up something to make that possible. I’m not sure that could happen in very many leagues around this country. The only thing in football scheduling that we had as a criteria as a transition team and as a group of athletic directors, everybody felt that we should let Missouri and Texas A&M play their first SEC game at home, and we made that schedule work. A&M will host Florida on September 8 and, that same day, Missouri will host Georgia. The 2012 schedule is only a one-time schedule."

    "Don’t read anything into who plays who and who plays who where and on what date. That schedule was put together without breaking any contractual obligation that any member of this league had with a non-conference team. We’re in the process of meeting and we’ve already had one discussion with the athletic directors, and we will have another discussion with the athletic directors by the end of this month as to how we want to move forward with football scheduling beginning in 2013. The next discussion is strictly principles; there will be no scheduling. It will be all format principles as to how we want to manage it long term. We will provide to the athletic directors the opportunities to have institutional input as well as conference input as to the parameters that we want to use in future scheduling. For instance, do we want to have a certain number of conference-conference games every weekend? That would be an example.”

    SEC Digital Network: In addition to the football scheduling, what has the scheduling process been like for each of the league’s other 19 sports?
     
    Larry Templeton:
    “We have just completed the scheduling for the 2012-2013 academic year for the other sports with the exception of men’s and women’s basketball. That has basically been the same philosophy - it is a one-year schedule that we will review during the next academic year, as to whether we want to adopt that format permanently, or whether we want to look at different parameters and concepts. For instance, in the sport of baseball, with two additional teams in 2013, we’re playing 10 weekends. Is there a desire to play one additional league member than 10 and play 11 weeks? That’s only an example. There have been, or shortly will be, meetings of coaches groups and one of the main items on their agenda has been future scheduling.”

    SEC Digital Network: What has been discussed by the transition team with regard to compliance and governance?

    Larry Templeton:
    “With our in-person meetings, particularly when the staffs from Missouri and Texas A&M came to Birmingham, we went page by page of the SEC Constitution, we went page by page through the Commissioner’s Regulations. We broke out into individual sessions as it related to sports and discussed such things as game management, contracts, television, etc. We did an extensive review of the compliance issues, particularly as it relates to the welfare of the student-athletes in the Southeastern Conference, specifically pointing out where the SEC rules are more stringent than the NCAA, and we have several of those issues.”

    SEC Digital Network: July 1, 2012 is the date that the both schools will officially join the SEC. Will they be granted full membership and benefits immediately?

    Larry Templeton:
    “The presidents of the Southeastern Conference fully accepted Texas A&M and Missouri with full benefits effective July 1, 2012. Our intention is to have both institutions at the spring meetings. I was totally impressed with the enthusiasm and excitement of the fan bases of both institutions; both times I’ve been to their campuses. It is a huge step toward the future for these two institutions.”

    SEC Digital Network: Was there anything you used as a guide for your transition team?

    Larry Templeton:
    “No, nobody wrote a notebook on how to transition. It has been a challenge, but a rewarding experience because of the excitement of both institutions and the excitement of the 12 institutions that are welcoming them into the SEC family.”

    SEC Digital Network: How will the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M affect on-campus championships?

    Larry Templeton:
    “We are reviewing the future sites of on-campus championships and we will carry some recommendations to the athletic directors in the near future about incorporating our two new members into those rotations. We have some outstanding facilities at both institutions that we need to take advantage of for our student-athletes to have a true championship experience.”
     
    SEC Digital Network: What has been discussed with the coaches groups in terms of scheduling and the transition team?
     
    Larry Templeton:
    “Primarily, most of the conversations with the coaches groups have been about the future. We have asked each coaches group to understand that the 2012-2013 academic year was a one-year deal and we basically just needed to make it work, but be fair in making it work. We have done a lot of listening and will continue to do so. That’s the beauty of having the rest of the spring and the summer to listen to the coaches groups. The coaches groups can make recommendations to the athletic directors and the athletic directors.”
     
    SEC Digital Network: How long do you see the transition team staying in place?
     
    Larry Templeton:
    “I would hope by the summer we can finalize the principles and the guidelines for scheduling. Will it take some other dialogue to manage game-management issues, governance issues, student-athlete welfare issues? We won’t know until we get on the campuses and get a better handle on it. For instance, there are some issues with game management at both institutions that we want to manage in an appropriate way, truly understanding their traditions, but also understanding the reason that we have those game-management guidelines in our Commissioner’s Regulations.”