In an opening statement to the Southeastern Conference Media Days, league commissioner Mike Slive referenced Benjamin Franklin, Johann Gutenberg, James Baldwin, Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt and the Gordian Knot, mostly to take aim at the NCAA.
“We will continue to push for changes we believe are in the best interest of our student athletes,” Slive said.
The SEC and other major conferences have supported measures, such as stipends for student-athletes, that have yet to take hold.
But Slive said college football needs to take a leadership position on concussions and update recruiting regulations.
“In some areas we remain bound by the way we’ve always done it rather than being motivated to seek a better way to achieve a new result,” Slive said. “Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, early recruiting, club sports, cell phones, internet access, distance learning, 3-D printers will continue to be more and more commonplace.
“The current regulatory approach would be more at home in the era of Johann Gutenberg’s printing press than in our current, fast-paced technology-driven society and no longer serve to functionally govern recruiting behaviors going forward.”
Slive said he supported the NCAA and executive director Mark Emmert, but suggested it’s time to think about college sports’ governing body in a different way. He questioned the roles of the stakeholders from the presidents to administrators to coaches, along with the NCAA Board of Directors and services provided by the national office.
“Do we need all of the services?” Slive said. “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.
“In the words of James Baldwin, not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
It was perhaps the most open challenge to the NCAA structure by a conference commissioner, and it came from the leader of college sports’ strongest league. The SEC has won seven straight BCS football championships and 86 team national championships since 2000.
Some college sports officials, although mostly anonymous in interviews, have been critical of the NCAA and Emmert. His handling of the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal, and the NCAA’s botched investigation of the University of Miami rank among the concerns.
Slive put a voice — and historical figures — to those issues.
“As Albert Einstein once said, we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thing we used when we created them.”