- Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer
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HOOVER, Ala. -- SEC commissioner Mike Slive says college sports have problems "from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Gulf to the Great Lakes."
But it's hard to see Slive even getting much support from within his own conference for the radical changes he proposed on Wednesday for college sports.
Among Slive's suggested changes (which he presented as an "agenda to stimulate a national discussion, an agenda for change"):
Raising the academic entrance requirements for incoming freshmen, from a minimum 2.0 GPA to 2.5. Slive also suggested prospective student-athletes would be required to complete a minimum number of core courses during each year of high school. Slive proposed that recruits who didn't meet minimum academic requirements would be admitted as partial qualifiers and would be able to practice, but couldn't play in games during their freshman seasons.
Slive also proposed offering cost-of-education scholarships, which would pay more than just standard room and board, tuition, books and other fees. Under that plan, NCAA schools also would pay for things like health insurance, clothing, travel and other education-related costs. Slive also offered up making scholarships four-year contracts, instead of one-year deals that currently exist. Slive said student-athletes would still have to perform academically and stay out of trouble to keep their scholarships. "It's not a free pass to act how you want to and it's not a free pass to not go to class," Slive said.
Slive also wants to modernize NCAA recruiting rules and allow coaches to text players and contact them via social media like Facebook and Twitter. Under current rules, coaches have only limited contact with prospective student-athletes and can only talk to them in person, via e-mail or over the phone. "It's time to push the reset button," Slive said.
Slive said schools across the country must also be ready to support and cooperate with the NCAA's enforcement efforts. Slive hopes schools will produce a streamlined NCAA manual that "governs only enforceable issues, of core importance that goes to the heart of what we do."
Not every SEC coaches agrees with Slive's recommendations. In fact, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who earlier this spring suggested paying his football players a $300 stipend for each game played, said he disagreed with most of Slive's proposals.
"I think most coaches feel like a one-year [scholarship] is more fair," Spurrier said. "That's a terrible idea, Commissioner. If you go bad, don't show up to work, your butt will be out on the street. Everybody has to earn your way in life. Go from there, that's the way I believe."
Spurrier also said the NCAA's minimum academic requirements for incoming freshmen were already difficult enough.
"We think they're tough enough," Spurrier said. "So I'm going to disagree with him on that one, too. I'm 0-for-2 with him."
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he wasn't opposed to making academic requirements more difficult, but felt like each school had to ensure their students were staying eligible.
"Let's make these guys all take the same classes their freshman year," Petrino said. "Let's take care of our business in college."
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