SEC meetings come to quick end
DESTIN, Fla. -- The Southeastern Conference held one of its shortest business meetings in league history Friday.
The powerful conference wrapped up its annual spring meetings with presidents and chancellors not taking a single vote, quite possibly the first time that's happened in the league's 80-year history.
"Shortest meeting in the history of the league," Florida president Bernie Machen said.
Presidents and chancellors delayed a decision about potentially moving to a nine-game league schedule. As expected, they agreed that 2014 and 2015 slates will follow the current 6-1-1 model, with teams playing six division opponents, one permanent, cross-division rival and one rotational game against the remaining six teams.
The SEC might switch to a nine-game schedule in 2016. If so, the league would join the Big Ten, the Pac-12 and the Big 12 in having that model.
Commissioner Mike Slive said the 2014 schedules should be released in the next few weeks. As for 2016 and beyond, he hopes to have a decision on that model by next May.
"It's an important exercise because it's hard to conceive of a schedule that will make everyone happy," Slive said.
Coaches voted 13-1 earlier in the week to maintain an eight-game schedule. Alabama's Nick Saban was the lone dissenter. He prefers a nine-game schedule that would make teams more appealing when a four-team playoff begins in 2014.
Others, most notably LSU's Les Miles, would prefer to see the SEC eliminate those permanent, cross-division games. Miles argues that those fixed games give some teams an advantage and put others at a disadvantage each year.
Slive said presidents and chancellors wanted to see scheduling models before making any rulings.
They did, however, leave the beachside resort with another record payday.
The SEC announced a payout of approximately $289.4 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year, giving each school $20.7 million. That number is expected to rise significantly in two years, after the launching of the SEC Network.
"We feel like we'll be able to support our 5,000 student-athletes well into the future," Slive said.
Slive reiterated the league's stance on supporting giving student-athletes a stipend that would cover the full cost of attendance. The measure, which has been supported by the Big Ten but contested by other conferences, would need NCAA approval.
"This is an issue that's not going to go away and we need to satisfy it," said Slive, adding that the SEC's proposal would be capped at $4,000 annually.
The league also is exploring new bowl tie-ins. The league lost two bowl spots beginning in the 2014 season because the Cotton and Chick-fil-A were included in the future playoff and is working to replace those. Slive also said he plans to have more say in where SEC teams end up in the bowl-selection process, essentially taking some power out of the hands of the bowl executives.
"As I think about the bowl system moving ahead, should we just keep going ahead because that's the way we've always done it or is it time, given all the other changes, to make a bit of a paradigm shift and maybe we have more say-so than maybe has been the tradition in the past," Slive said, adding that all bowls tie-ins except for the Sugar Bowl are being renegotiated. "So we expect to come to the table with some different ideas that our athletic directors feel very strongly about."
In other SEC news:
• After establishing a working group on concussions last June, the league made a formal request that the NCAA take the lead in "organizing and spearheading a national research effort and examining possible revisions to playing rules in football and other sports," Slive said.
• The SEC opted not to try to develop a uniform drug policy. Instead, the league said it will continue to update and evaluate the drug-testing procedures and policies. "We want to make sure specifically that our membership is attentive, and I think they are, to the policies they have in place. That's a very clear baseline expectation. If things change is policy, we'll take a look at those," associate commissioner Greg Sankey said.
• Slive said the league is pushing to lower minimum number of tickets that bowls require participating SEC schools to purchase.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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