NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference’s next commissioner wants to add to the legacy of his predecessors by building on the league’s success.
“Mike Slive’s legacy will shape the SEC long into the future,” Greg Sankey said. “Yet we’re not done. We’re not close to being done. The SEC is poised to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes for generations.”
The SEC introduced Sankey at a news conference before Friday’s quarterfinal games at their men’s basketball tournament with both Kramer and Slive on hand.
Sankey has been Slive’s right-hand man since November 2002, and his promotion was widely expected.
Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos, president of the SEC presidents and chancellors, says they conducted a national search and picking Sankey allows the SEC to transition smoothly.
Sankey addressed a handful of topics in college athletics over nearly 30 minutes:
ON POTENTIAL EXPANSION
The SEC currently is at 14 members after adding Texas A&M and Missouri in 2012. “Expansion is not something that’s on my top shelf,” Sankey said. “Excellence is, though. And excellence is a good thing.”
ON THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
“I think four is a good number. I was a commissioner when I-AA football playoffs had 16,” Sankey said. “I don’t think people that advocate for that have really thought through the toll that’s taken, not simply on the players, but the people participating in the games, but in the overall infrastructure.’
“I think what happened last year was great,” he added. “I think it would have been even greater had an SEC team won that national championship. And that will be our focus in the future.”
ON COST OF ATTENDANCE
Sankey is taking a wait-and-see approach on whether he wants every SEC school doling out the same amount for the cost of attendance.
“We’re going to follow the expectations of legal outcomes first. This conference comes together to work on issues, and it will. It will do it appropriately,” he said. “I expect cost of attendance to be the same. We’re supportive of our student-athletes, and this is a new way to do that.”
ON FRESHMAN ELIGILBILITY
Some conference commissioners have said they are open to making freshmen ineligible in basketball and potentially other sports. Sankey said everyone needs “to be careful before we jump down a road too quickly.”
“We do have freshmen ineligibility,” he said. “It’s really targeted freshmen ineligibility. So there’s a band of individuals who don’t meet certain standards and who won’t be able to compete starting in 2016. The observation is let’s see what that does. … I was part of crafting through a committee the standards that are in place, and I’m comfortable with those currently. But it will be part of the dialogue as we move forward.”
ON NOT GRADUATING FROM AN SEC SCHOOL
Sankey is not a graduate of an SEC school, and he and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier agree that’s a good thing — and will help avoid any perception of bias.
“When I first met Steve Spurrier, he and I had 20 minutes together. And his first question was, ‘Tell me where you went to school,” Sankey said. “I won’t do my impression of Steve at this moment. I told him I have an undergraduate degree from State University at Cortland and a Masters from Syracuse. And he said, ‘That’s good.’
“I’ll let his evaluation rest.”
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