SEC commissioner Mike Slive introduced the conference's 2011 Media Days bazaar at 1:30 pm ET with what had been called a critically important announcement by ... pretty much everybody. Before he took the podium, Tony Barnhart was reporting the message would focus on major changes to be made to college football -- beyond just the SEC -- including multiple-year scholarships.
Some also guessed he'd discuss providing athletes with full cost of attendance scholarships.
Slive opened his comments by shooting down rumors of his own resignation, then bragged about the conference's run of dominance in football and non-football sports, whatever those may be. Citing the summer's bounty of ridiculous headlines, Slive lamented the "shadow" cast over college athletics and academics by assorted scandals.
He then got to the big stuff, introducing the SEC's four-piece "agenda for change."
Redefine the benefits available to student-athletes.
As expected, Slive recommended finding a way to provide cost of attendance scholarships to student-athletes, making the SEC the first conference to officially declare desire for increasing money made legally available to players. This would cover expenses for student medical, travel and other needs.
Perhaps in an effort to halt oversigning concerns, Slive recommended multi-year scholarships, which would include providing for athletes who stop playing for their school's teams.
He revealed the NFL, NCAA and various other entities have worked together to come up with solutions on curbing impermissible benefits, but that efforts have been slowed by the NFL lockout.
Strengthen academic eligibility requirements for freshmen and transfers.
Slive said the NCAA should consider whether freshmen should be allowed to play without passing academic standards, and that academic evaluations should include more than just senior years of high school.
He also talked about raising the minimum GPA to 2.5 and establishing a set of core courses every athlete must pass before playing at the NCAA level. Players who failed to meet academic standards should be allowed to practice and receive academic aid, but not compete.
Modernize recruiting rules.
"It's time to push the reset button." Slive said the NCAA should move away from attempting to create level playing fields, citing the many advantages held by certain schools that make such a goal unattainable.
The SEC has already recommended loosening text messaging rules. To Slive, the NCAA's focus on the small stuff has made it difficult to monitor actual problems. He recommended treating all electronic communication the same, establishing calendars that focus on permitted contact instead of prohibited contact, ensuring recruitment occurred on campuses and not through third parties -- which means no recruiting events like non-scholastic 7-on-7 tournaments could be held by college programs.
Support the NCAA.
Slive called for clear, enforceable reform legislation that seeks to manage only issues "of core importance." (Georgia Tech fans, you should approve of this.)
For more SEC, head to Team Speed Kills. For more on SEC Media Days, stay tuned to SBNation.com's streaming coverage, plus SB Nation Atlanta's as well. Here's the complete 2011 SEC Media Days TV schedule.