Q&A with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive
Published: Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 12:31 a.m.
Mike Slive will celebrate the 10th anniversary of his hiring as SEC Commissioner in July. During that time he has seen the SEC basketball tournament continue to thrive and grow. Sports columnist Pat Dooley spoke to Slive about the future of the tournament.
Q:The SEC Football Championship and baseball tournament have permanent homes. Why does the league like to move the basketball tournament around?
A: As we have looked at basketball, we knew we wanted to be in Atlanta on a somewhat regular basis and at the same time our fans enjoy the somewhat smaller basketball venues, so we've experimented by moving it around. We've been to Florida, we're in New Orleans this year and we have found Nashville has served us well, so, as you know, we're projected to come to Bridgestone Arena a little more often. In the future, we'll settle in to Atlanta, Nashville and another site yet to be determined.
(Note: the tournament will be in Nashville four times from 2013 to 2019 and in Atlanta in 2014. The 2017 and '18 sites are yet to be determined.)
Q: Do you see a time when it might stay in one place?
A: I don't know. I wouldn't say no, but there has been a tradition of moving it around. Many of the venues that we want to go to are also competing for NCAA second and third rounds and regionals, and they are not available on an annual basis.
Q: With the new additions to the league, will other cities become part of the rotation?
A: Yeah, I think we anticipate we will hear from St. Louis. Whether or not we'll hear from cities in Texas I don't know. We still have two open years. We're going to be in Nashville a lot, but '17 and '18 are open.
Q At one point, there was some talk of moving the tourney up so the final would be Saturday and give NCAA-bound teams some rest. Is that a dead issue now?
A: I think it is. You know when we heard that every year and we did a study of the teams that played on Championship Sunday, and in the final analysis it doesn't impact the teams that played on Sunday.
Q: What do you think Missouri and Texas A&M will bring to the tournament in terms of fan support?
A: Texas A&M has a strong and passionate fan base. Clearly now Missouri has built a significant basketball tradition. Three things we thought about when making the decision to expand were, one, academic status, two, a commitment to high-level, broad-based programs and, third was passion of their fans. It has been very clear over the last few months that we were right about all three, and we anticipate they will come to our tournament.
Q: Do you think they are ready for Kentucky fans?
A: One of the things we do know is that the Blue will be there.
Q: During your time as commissioner, football has dominated the landscape. Do you feel basketball has also grown?
A: I do. I really felt our basketball was woefully underexposed in the early years. Since I've come to the league we've made a concerted effort to get us exposed earlier with the Big East Challenge and when we did our television deal we thought basketball was critically important. So all of our conference games are on. We wanted to make sure not only the championship game (of the tournament) was on national television but the semifinals games as well in 100 percent of the country. The success our teams have had has helped with Florida winning two national championships in recent years. I think we've helped ourselves with not having divisions. Now we have to sit down and figure out how we're going to schedule long term.
Q: What is your favorite part about the SEC Tournament every year?
A: One of my favorite parts is everybody is focused on the tournament which means I get to sit down and watch every play of every game and enjoy being part of the excitement of the tournament. I do it for the men and women. It's something I look forward to every year. It reminds me of being on the (NCAA Tournament) basketball committee and just disappearing into basketball. For a commissioner who has a lot of things on his plate, that's a nice change.
— Pat Dooley