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8 months ago

SEC visionary: Alabama Former Commissioner Mike Slive dies at 77

With bold vision, keen intellect and a gentle manner, Mike Slive guided the Southeastern Conference to unprecedented success and prosperity in 13 years as commissioner. He pushed for a college football playoff years before others embraced it and was a steadying force during a time of enormous growth and volatility throughout college athletics.

Slive died Wednesday at the age of 77 in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lived with his wife, Liz, three years after retiring to battle prostate cancer. The Southeastern Conference did not provide the cause of death.

“It’s shocking,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who replaced Slive, told the AP. “So many people cared for Mike, worked with Mike, knew Mike that I think it’s shocking to everyone. And that’s because of the impact he made on individuals and on conferences and on people across this country. He left a legacy certainly in this league of success and stability and growth that will always be remembered.”

Slive replaced Roy Kramer as SEC commissioner in 2002, coming from Conference USA to help clean up an SEC that was beset by NCAA compliance issues. Soon after the SEC became the most powerful conference in college football, winning seven straight national championships and landing television contracts with the ESPN and CBS worth billions.

“Commissioner Slive was truly one of the great leaders college athletics has ever seen and an even better person,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He was a wonderful friend to me and someone who I respected tremendously. Mike changed the landscape of the Southeastern Conference and helped build our league into what you see today.”

The SEC’s success was not limited to football under Slive. Overall, the conference won 81 national championships in 17 sports during his tenure.

“Mike was a giant in our industry and as remarkable as he was professionally, he was an even better person,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby called Slive “a true visionary.”

Slive played a pivotal role in the creation of the College Football Playoff. He first formally proposed the idea of a four-team playoff for college football in 2008, but it was shot down by most of the other conference commissioners.

“I think there were many who were not all the way supportive, some wanted larger and some not at all,” Bowlsby told AP. “Mike’s position was known and not everybody agreed with it. But he was statesman.”

Finally, after two SEC teams, LSU and Alabama, played in the BCS national championship game after the 2011 season, the rest of college football’s power brokers came around and constructed the current postseason system.

“He was a very good communicator, built relationships inside his conference and outside his conference,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told AP. “He was also a friend. We were competitors, too, but we were always able to talk through it. Disagree and come back to the table. I respected his flexibility and human qualities. But he was a force because of how smart he was.”

During tumultuous conference realignment across the nation, the SEC expanded from 12 to 14 schools with the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M in 2012 under Slive. He was the catalyst behind the creation of the SEC Network, which launched in 2014.

Slive also played a major part in ushering in a new governance model for the NCAA in which the SEC and the other four most powerful and wealthy conferences were given autonomy to create and pass legislation.

“Not just an innovator, but a creative person who had the insight to kind of peer around the corner a little bit and know what opportunities might come next,” Sankey said.

Slive was born in Utica, New York, the son of a butcher. He became an attorney and founded a law firm that assisted schools with NCAA issues for before starting a long career in college sports. He was the founding commissioner of both the Great Midwest Conference and C-USA.

“Mike Slive is one of the best people I have ever met,” said Charles Bloom, a former associate commissioner at the SEC who is now an administrator at South Carolina. “His impact on me was tremendous. He was a father-type figure, someone I could talk to about life issues and then we would work together on SEC office matters. He was a great leader, mentor and friend.”

After surviving cancer, Slive founded the Mike Slive Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research.

Slive is survived by Liz, his wife of 49 years; daughter Anna; son-in-law Judd Harwood; and granddaughter Abigail.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)
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8 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

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“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

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Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

10 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

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This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

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“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

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The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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