Written by Jeff Lockridge, The Tennessean
HOOVER, ALA. - SEC Commissioner Mike Slive offered a very adamant and perhaps slightly threatening speech centered on the NCAA's need for change at the annual SEC Media Days gathering on Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel.
Just how much time Slive is willing to give college athletics' governing body to fall in line with his way of thinking remains unclear. But the clock is ticking.
The soon-to-be 73-year-old threw his support behind the NCAA several times during his address, although each pat on the head was served with a slap across the face.
He questioned parts of the NCAA structure, including the role of its board of directors.
"What is the proper role, function, composition and size of the NCAA board of directors?" he asked. "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?"
Slive indicated after his speech that he has never been part of a meeting with conference commissioners where discussion of an uprising or departure from the NCAA has taken place.
"We have supported and continue to support the NCAA," Slive said. "But at the same time, however, we will continue to push for changes we believe are in the best interest of our student-athletes."
Slive addressed the NCAA's need to allow athletes to receive the "full cost of attendance," strengthen academic eligibility requirements and modernize recruiting rules.
With regard to athlete benefits, Slive acknowledged progress had been made with the option of multi-year scholarships and in easing the ability of former athletes to come back to school and get financial aid.
"But the NCAA has not been successful in meeting the full cost of attendance of our student-athletes, whether through the so-called miscellaneous expense allowance or some other model that provides broad access to additional funds."
In a statement obtained by al.com in response to Slive's comments, NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn wrote: "Opinion and dialogue is vital to the membership's decision-making process, so we welcome and encourage discussion on how the Association can improve and move forward to support student-athletes."
Senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley, one of Florida's three player representatives at Media Days, cautioned other players about being greedy and said he is happy with what he has. Easley said his teammates talk about the need for more money, but it is talk he stays away from.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said SEC coaches have come up with their own proposal and are in complete agreement (he referenced a 14-0 vote) that each player should be given approximately $300 per game to help their families travel to watch them play.
"This is tiny compared to the money that is coming in," Spurrier said. "This is not pay-for-play. Please don't say, Spurrier says pay-for-play. This is just expense money."