- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's that time of year again when coaches toss the headsets for flip-flops and the gridiron for sand.
Welcome to the 2015 edition of the SEC spring meetings down in Destin, Florida.
The conference's most powerful people will convene inside the Sandestin Beach Hilton to figure out what's working, what isn't and what needs to change in the SEC. A number of topics on the docket for all 14 league coaches, their respective athletic directors and presidents, and SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who is set to retire in July after 13 years leading the league. Expect future commish Greg Sankey to say a few things and probably flip a few tires in the hot sun.
So what important issues will be discussed at great length this week? Here are a few topics you'll hear about over the next four days:
The SEC is still fighting against the infamous satellite camps. To refresh your memory, NCAA rules allow football programs to hold camps on campus, inside their state or within a 50-mile radius of their school, but there's a nifty little loophole that allows coaches to "guest-coach" at another school's camp anywhere in the country. It allows coaches to get face-to-face with prospects who don't have to travel to see them before the season. It's very beneficial for both sides because now you take away a potential visit that costs money for the prospect and his family, allowing coaches to get valuable time with them while watching them work out. Penn State coach James Franklin got the SEC grumbling by taking his coaches down south last year.
More schools are getting in on the fun, but the SEC has a rule that forbids its coaches from partaking in the advantageous recruiting opportunities. Basically, the SEC doesn't want to give its rivals extra time in their extremely fertile recruiting ground. While I think the SEC should just join the fray and allow its coaches to participate as well, the league is going to fight to have satellite camps eliminated. If that doesn't happen, well then, the SEC might just have to evolve and eliminate its somewhat outdated rule.
While the Power 5 schools -- the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 -- already passed a cost-of-attendance measure back in January, there will still be a lot of discussion about it because of the differing estimates already submitted by different schools. Cost-of-attendance will cover costs for student-athletes beyond tuition, room and board, books and fees. Each university's financial aid office will calculate the costs and report them to the federal government.
The problem is that location and travel can have a much different effect on costs for one school compared to another. One school offering more financially could certainly use that to its advantage in recruiting. Right now, each school is in charge of its own numbers, which leaves the door open for some manipulation. It'll be interesting to see how the coaches approach this subject and see how many push for a more equitable plan across the board for schools and which ones won't (probably the ones with higher costs). Slive also is pushing for more transparency with cost-of-attendance.
The Everett Golson situation brought to light some holes in the SEC's transfer rules. Because of his year-long suspension from Notre Dame for academic reasons, Golson would have needed a waiver from Slive to play at an SEC school because of the league's rule that says graduate transfers aren't eligible if they've been the subject of university discipline at a previous school. The ACC doesn't have the rule, and Golson ended up at Florida State.
The interesting thing is that there isn't the same restriction for non-graduate transfers. Players who have been previously arrested and/or dismissed from a previous school are free to transfer into the SEC. Yeah, there's something very wrong with that, and you better believe coaches and athletic directors are going to bring it up this week.
That also leads to the topic of how the conference will handle discipline going forward when it comes to off-the-field incidents. The NCAA is getting more involved, especially when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault, and the SEC can't afford not to take a stronger stand on such issues and inflict harsher punishments for offenders.
Passing the torch
This is Slive's final set of SEC spring meetings, which is almost hard to believe. Slive has done so much for the league, but he's now leaving the conference in Sankey's hands. Sankey will no doubt have a presence in Destin this week, and he'll likely comment about many of the topics that will be discussed this week. It'll be a good introduction for Sankey, and we'll see how ready he is for the media scrum and scrutiny that comes with leading college football's most powerful conference.
A number of issues figure to draw a lot of discussion at this week's SEC spring meetings, including satellite football camps.