Mike Slive: Many NCAA uncertainties

Updated: July 16, 2013, 9:39 PM ET
By Alex Scarborough | ESPN.com

HOOVER, Ala. -- Commissioner Mike Slive started off SEC Media Days by opening up his "brag bag" of the league's many on- and off-field accomplishments, but the tone of his annual address quickly turned into a sharp critique of many of the NCAA's current practices.

Slive jabbed at the NCAA rulebook, saying it was more antiquated than Johannes Gutenberg's printing press while questioning the governing body's effectiveness as it relates to taking care of its student-athletes.

"We have supported and will continue to support the NCAA as the appropriate governing organization for intercollegiate athletics, but at the same time, however, we will continue to push for changes we believe are in the best interest of our student-athletes," he said.

Slive in the past has pushed for full cost-of-attendance scholarships, and he reiterated that stance Tuesday, saying there ought to be a "so-called miscellaneous expense allowance or some other model that provides broad access to additional funds."

"The NCAA has not been successful in meeting the full cost of attendance of our student-athletes," he said. "… Conferences and their member institutions must be allowed to meet the needs of their student-athletes. In recent conversations with my commissioner colleagues, there appears to be a willingness to support a meaningful solution to this important change."

Slive openly questioned the NCAA Board of Directors, saying there are "important questions that need to be answered" about its structure.

"For example, what changes need to be made to the NCAA structure to provide significant roles for the stakeholders, the presidents, chancellors, athletic directors, institutional administrators, conference administrators, and coaches?" he asked. "What is the proper role, function and composition and size of the NCAA Board of Directors? Do we need all of the services provided by the NCAA's national office, its many committees and task forces, or are some of these services better provided elsewhere?

"And how do we streamline the NCAA committee and legislative processes to provide leaders and visionaries who will ensure the NCAA's future?"

Slive took the time to look inward as well, saying the many off-field incidents involving current and former SEC athletes is "unacceptable." Vanderbilt dismissed four players who were kicked off campus last month amid a sex-crimes investigation, and Alabama was forced to release four players prior to the start of spring practice in February for their alleged involvement in an on-campus robbery.

"We are not naive enough to think we can end unacceptable behavior," he said. "But that doesn't mean we will not try, try, try."

As far as the issue of scheduling, the league will remain with its 6-1-1 format until a review is completed in anticipation of the 2016 season. The review will answer the question of whether an eight- or nine-game schedule is in the best interest of the league. Alabama coach Nick Saban has pushed for a nine-game schedule, but he's met resistance from many of his SEC brethren, including LSU's Les Miles, who wants to eliminate the permanent cross-divisional opponent.

"As I said this spring, the simple goal of this review, although it is not simple to do, is to select the format that is in the long-term best interest of the conference as a whole," Slive said.

Alex Scarborough | email

Alabama/SEC reporter