SBD/June 6, 2013/Colleges

Big 12's Bob Bowlsby Looks To Usher In New Era; Will SEC's Slive Retire?

Bowlsby said 10 was the right number of schools for the Big 12
The Big 12 “survived in spite of itself and is poised to thrive,” and Commissioner Bob Bowlsby “will attempt to lead the league into a new era of (he hopes) peace and prosperity,” according to Andy Staples of SI.com. Bowlsby explained some of the surprises from Year One of his tenure and some of his plans for Year Two. Bowlsby arrived as “schools were forging a new bond as (more, but certainly not completely) equal partners.” Bowlsby said, "Trust is growing with each passing activity we undertake. With each business venture, with each collaboration, some of the scar tissue is being reduced and nerves aren't quite as close to the surface." The realignment “tilt-a-whirl came to a screeching halt in April when the schools of the ACC agreed to a Grant of Rights,” and Bowlsby “appreciated this as much as anyone.” He said, "From my vantage point, that was a desirable and needed circumstance for college athletics. I don't think all this realignment has reflected favorably on college athletics." Bowlsby wants his schools “to understand that they are in business with one another.” He said, “I've spent a lot of time with my presidents as well talking about what would be the optimal size. We're not 10 by default. We're 10 because we've gone through a considered process that tells us it's the best situation for us right now. That's not to say we would never add members. You can't ever say never. But we're 10 because we think 10 is the right number and because we haven't been persuaded that larger is definitely better." Bowlsby, with the league stabilized, “can begin work on tasks that might have seemed mundane -- and frivolous -- when the league was in constant flux.” One priority in Year Two is “properly branding the Big 12” (SI.com, 6/4).

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? In Birmingham, Jon Solomon noted SEC Commissioner Mike Slive over the next year “will determine if he wants to continue as commissioner beyond" '13-14. Slive said that he is “in no rush to decide.” He has one year remaining on his contract, with the SEC Network and College Football Playoff both set to “launch after Slive's contract expires” in ’14. He will have “served 12 years as commissioner when his current contract expires next summer.” Slive in recent years has been “working on shorter two-year contracts.” Auburn President Jay Gogue said, "It's probably not unusual for somebody his age to say, 'I feel good right now, my family is healthy, I feel good for another year or two years.’ A longterm contract when you reach a certain age is probably not the sort of thing you want to do." Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin said that he “hopes Slive remains commissioner when the conference network starts" in '14. Slive over the past year “reorganized the SEC office to focus on bigger-picture issues.” Greg Sankey was promoted to executive associate commissioner and “has run the daily operations of the SEC office.” Gogue said that the SEC would “continue to be stable without Slive, whose greatest strength … is building consensus” (AL.com, 6/4). ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy cited sources as saying that Sankey “is the favorite to replace Slive” (ESPN.com, 6/5).
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