Subscription Preferences:
3 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)
Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

36 mins ago

WATCH: University of Alabama Police Department completes lip sync battle featuring ‘Sweet Home Alabama’

Monday, The University of Alabama posted a video of their campus police department participating in a lip sync battle against Clemson University.

UAPD chose “Sweet Home Alabama” as their song and, afterward, challenged all other SEC schools to join in on the competition.

Watch the full video here.

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

1
43 mins ago

Rep. Byrne: Illegal immigrants will not be housed in Baldwin County

Tuesday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) announced that illegal immigrants would not be housed at Navy airfields in Baldwin County.

Congressman Byrne opposed the housing of 10,000 illegal immigrants at Naval Outlying Field Silverhill and Naval Outlying Field Wolf in south Baldwin County.

Byrne, along with other members of the Alabama and Florida Congressional delegation, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security Nielson expressing their concerns with the proposal.

Byrne released both a statement and a tweet on Tuesday regarding the decision of the proposal.

161

“Housing illegal immigrants at ill-equipped airfields along the Gulf Coast was always a terrible idea, so I appreciate the confirmation that this plan is no longer being considered. We had a team effort to push back this flawed idea, and I especially want to thank Baldwin County Commissioners Chris Elliott and Tucker Dorsey and Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack for their advocacy on this issue,” said Byrne in a news release.

He added, “While I am glad this issue is resolved, we must continue working to secure the border and eliminate the need for additional housing for illegal immigrants altogether. I remain 100% committed to working with President Trump to build a border wall, hire additional border patrol officers, and ensure our border security is as strong as possible.”

Click here to read the full letter ICE Deputy Director Ronald Vitiello sent to Rep. Byrne regarding the decision.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

1 hour ago

Liberal heckler hurls object, expletives at Doug Jones — Jones says ‘there’s just as many people passionate on the other side’

After a liberal heckler hurled an object and expletives at Sen. Doug Jones at a town hall Monday, Alabama’s junior senator compared the incident, which ended with police officers hauling the agitator out, to peaceful conservative efforts to persuade Jones to vote to confirm President Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

AL.com’s Howard Koplowitz reported that Jones indicated at the town hall that “conservatives in the state are trying to apply the same pressure on him as the woman at the Birmingham event,” referring to the protester.

Jones said, “There’s just as many people passionate on the other side, so that doesn’t make it real easy.”

While the pressure on Jones from the left has stooped to this kind of antic, conservative efforts have all been peaceful and respectful to this point. They are backed by the fact that a majority of Alabamians polled support Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

104

The Judicial Crisis Network’s massive ad buy has been flooding Alabama’s airwaves since July 9, and the NRA started their own ambitious television campaign last week.

Concerned Women for America, a Christian women’s organization, is also focusing grassroots efforts on the state.

Sen. Richard Shelby voiced his strong support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation after meeting with him recently, but Jones remains undecided.

“Senator Doug Jones’ inability to make a decision on casting an Alabama vote for Judge Kavanaugh is disconcerting,” Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan told Yellowhammer News.

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

1 hour ago

Arab High School to dump ‘Dixie’ tradition at football games

A rural Alabama high school is ending its tradition of playing “Dixie” at football games.

John Mullins, superintendent of city schools in Arab, said he made the decision to quit playing the song at Arab (AY-rab) High School, but not because of any “external pressure.”

174

Leaders in the educational system and the school board have talked for months about dropping the song, he said, and local news outlets reported in June that the longtime band director was retiring.

“While I fully understand the difficulty of changing a tradition, the song has negative connotations that contradict our school district’s core values of unity, integrity, and relationships,” Mullins said in a statement reported by WHNT-TV.

School bands throughout the South used to play “Dixie,” but the practice ended as the region got further away from legalized racial segregation.

The Arab High School Band has played “Dixie” after touchdowns for decades.

Students and staff at the school will vote on a new fight song after this football season.

In the meantime, the band will play an instrumental soul song that’s popular among marching bands, “The Horse.”

Census statistics show the town of about 8,200 people, located in northeastern Alabama, is more than 96 percent white.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

Rep. Byrne: ‘Great value’ found in traveling around district, speaking with local leaders

Each August, the House of Representatives typically enters a period of recess known as the August District Work Period. This is time set aside for Members of Congress to travel across their home districts visiting with the people they represent.

For me, this is incredibly valuable time that I can spend listening to my constituents and gaining a better understanding of the issues impacting our area. Here is just a quick highlight of my August District Work Period so far.

511

As you probably already know, I love to hold town hall meetings throughout the First District to hear directly from the people I represent. This August, I am holding a “Better Off Now” Town Hall Tour with twelve stops in all six counties that make up the First District. So far, we have held town hall meetings in Salipta, Atmore, Brewton, Dauphin Island, Millry, Citronelle and Mobile. Later this month, we will make stops in Grand Bay, Monroeville, Seminole, Loxley and Spanish Fort. You can get all the details about the town halls online at Byrne.House.Gov/BetterOffTour.

Visiting local businesses and talking with employees is another priority for me in August. For example, I have already visited Olin in McIntosh, the Louisiana Pacific facility in Clarke County, Serda Brewing in Mobile, and Metal Shark Boats and Master Marine in Bayou La Batre, just to name a few. The visits help me learn firsthand how federal issues are directly impacting employers and employees in Southwest Alabama.

A really special opportunity was being able to ride along with UPS to help deliver packages on the Eastern Shore. I dressed up in the full UPS uniform, rode in the truck, and personally delivered packages. It really helped to step in the driver’s shoes and see the difficult work they do every day. I am especially grateful to Chris Dorgan for showing me the ropes.

Just last week, I hosted Chris Oliver, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, down on Dauphin Island for a Red Snapper research trip. As one of the leading federal officials responsible for our fisheries, I welcomed the opportunity to show off the health of the Red Snapper stock in the Gulf, as well as the very impressive research being done locally by the University of South Alabama and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

Also last week, I traveled to the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi to meet with the director and get an update on services for our veterans. As you may know, the Biloxi VA oversees most of our local VA facilities. It was a productive visit as I work to hold the VA accountable and ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve.

We had the annual Women’s Forum in downtown Mobile, which is organized by the Community Foundation of South Alabama. We had another outstanding crowd as local women had the opportunity to network and hear from speakers and panelists about issues important to them.

I find great value in holding roundtable discussions to hear directly from leaders about specific issues. With this in mind, we held separate roundtables with local school superintendents, economic developers from our area, and community leaders from Chatom. Each of these roundtables were very informative, and we have more scheduled later this month.

As you can probably tell, this August District Work Period has already been a huge success. The good news is that we are just getting started. I look forward to spending more time around Southwest Alabama throughout August to help me be the best Congressman possible.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.