Former SEC commissioner Mike Slive died at age 77 on Wednesday, and he leaves behind a legacy of leading arguably the greatest run in conference history.
Slive was the SEC’s seventh commissioner, and he served from 2002-15. During that time, the conference produced seven consecutive national champions in college football from 2006-12. He also oversaw other important growth moments for the conference, such as leading the adoption of a league-wide NCAA compliance initiative and helping the conference expand from 12 to 14 teams when former Big 12 members Missouri and Texas A&M became SEC schools prior to the 2012 football season.
Slive also was an integral part of the SEC’s growth in a changing media landscape as an engineer of pivotal television contracts. He was a guiding force behind the SEC Network’s launch in 2014 as part of ESPN’s family of networks, and the channel remains a visible part of sports media offerings today. The SEC also enjoyed broadcast partnerships with ESPN and CBS during Slive’s tenure.
But Slive’s oversight during the SEC’s dominance in football will go down as one of his largest achievements. During the conference’s run to seven consecutive national championships, the SEC gained a reputation as the country’s most elite football conference. SEC football became a must-see event during Slive’s tenure, and it’s unlikely that another conference will match the SEC’s run anytime soon.
Florida won the first of the SEC’s streak of national titles during the 2006 season. LSU won a national championship the following campaign, followed by Florida, Alabama, Auburn and two more national titles for Alabama.
Certainly, Slive’s responsibilities extended beyond the SEC. He served as a coordinator of the Bowl Championship Series (2006-08) and as a chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee (2008-09). In 2002-03, Slive worked on the Commission of Athletics Opportunity, established by the United States secretary of education to review the workings of Title IX.
Prior to serving as the SEC commissioner, Slive was the commissioner for Conference USA, a post he held from 1995-2002. Slive took over as SEC commissioner from Roy Kramer and was replaced by Greg Sankey, who is the conference’s current commissioner.
Slive’s accomplishments as SEC commissioner are many and notable. He will be missed.