May 31, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
DESTIN, Fla. — They didn't vote on the headline issue of whether to play an eight or nine-game conference schedule. They didn't vote on a league-wide drug test. They're still exploring the impact of concussions.
The Southeastern Conference spring meetings ended quietly Friday — except for the people who balance athletic budgets. Auburn, the 13 other member schools and the league office each received a record $20.7 million payday as the league divided its revenue from television, bowls and other sources.
You know, just another day the office for the Southeastern Conference.
"This was more of a regular meeting," said Auburn's Jay Jacobs, who is chairman of the SEC athletic directors. "The last three or four years it's been about the playoff, SEC TV, it's been about expansion. This was more straight-forward.
"This one was informative and was about the accomplishments for our student-athletes."
The conference will find even more riches beginning in 2014 when the new SEC television network kicks in. In all, it distributed a total of $289.4 million to the schools Friday.
It didn't take long, either.
"It was the shortest business meeting in the almost-80-year history of the Southeastern Conference," said commissioner Mike Slive.
The meeting adjourned, and Jacobs was already looking ahead.
"I'm certainly looking forward to a new chapter in football this fall with Gus Malzahn," he said. "All of us are excited about his vision for football. I'm certainly looking forward to us getting better in each of our sports next year. We provide our coaches with every opportunity, resource-wise, to compete at the highest level. The expectations are high, and as we move forward to hire a softball coach and baseball coach, our expectations aren't going down — they're going up.
"We're going to do everything for our student-athletes to get a diploma in their hand and a championship ring on their finger."
Auburn wants to stay with the eight-game conference schedule. But Slive said a nine-game schedule will be considered.
"We'll start immediately to model every option we can think of," Slive said.
"This will be an important exercise because it's very hard to conceive of a schedule that can make everybody happy about everything they want."
The possible move to a nine-game conference schedule and ending "rivalry" games such as Auburn-Georgia dominated the talk the first three days of the annual meetings, or least in the media. But, as expected, no action was taken.
Jacobs says he wants to stay with an eight-game schedule and a 6-1-1 format that would keep Georgia as Auburn's permanent East Division rival. But he said a move to a nine-game schedule could come as early as 2015, if the league votes that way.
"But right now it's eight games and the 6-1-1, and that's how we're proceeding with the schedules," Jacobs said.
Some of the four-day meeting highlights were:
•Despite the talk in the media of football schedules, "we devoted a good part of our time this week to basketball," Slive said. The reason the league did was to encourage teams to stop scheduling overmatched teams just to get a guaranteed victory but instead schedule competitive games to improved the league's RPI to help get teams into the NCAA Tournament.
•The SEC is in negotiations to find replacements for its tie-ins with the Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls, which will be part of the new playoffs for the 2014 season.
Slive said he would press the bowls to lower their ticket requirements. Generally, schools are responsible for their entire ticket allotment, even if the tickets are not sold.
•Slive said the league is concerned about concussions, and will follow a new rule that prevents hits about the shoulders. But he said most of the discussions by the coaches were about safety concerns about illegal blocks below the waist.
The SEC may push for a change in that rule for this season.
•Arkansas coach Rich Bielema said earlier in the week that today's fast-paced offenses — like the one Malzahn employs — put tiring defensive players at risk because teams don't have enough time for substitutions.
"That has been expressed," Slive said.
Malzahn addressed it earlier in the week.
"I'd say that's probably a more in-shape issue than anything," he said.
•The league kicked around a stipend for players, mainly in football and basketball. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has been an advocate of that, but there are numerous issues, including Title IX, that would have to be resolved before any stipend is increased.
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