SEC commissioner Mike Slive laid out his ideas for reform in intercollegiate athletics at the start of his conference's media days Wednesday, essentially proposing an "agenda for change" in four areas:
Increasing scholarship dollars to reflect the full cost of attendance, and offering multiyear scholarships instead of renewable one-year grants.
Increasing the minimum GPA for incoming freshmen in the 16 core courses from 2.0 to 2.5, while allowing the return of partial qualifiers, or Prop 48 cases.
A recruiting overhaul -- allowing texting and the use of social media.
Improving and upgrading the NCAA enforcement process.
His ideas come ahead of an NCAA retreat scheduled for Aug. 9-10 in Indianapolis, where university presidents, athletic administrators and conference commissioners will discuss the biggest challenges facing athletics today and ideas to make improvements. Several administrators with Big East ties will be at the retreat: Syracuse president Nancy Cantor; Georgetown president John DeGioia; USF president Judy Genshaft; UConn president Susan Herbst; DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto; and Julie Hermann, executive senior associate athletic director at Louisville.
So how should the Big East react to the ideas Slive presented?
When it comes to increasing the scholarship dollars, the Big East has no consensus opinion. Several athletic directors have their reservations about this idea for three big reasons: 1. Will this apply to all sports? 2. Where will the extra money come from to pay out bigger scholarships? 3. Is this something that will be done across every conference?
The Big East does not have the riches that the SEC or Big Ten has, so you have to wonder whether the league can fully support a plan like this without getting concrete answers to the above questions. In essence, I think each Big East school would have a difficult time finding the money to increase scholarship dollars without help from someplace else.
The Prop 48 idea is an interesting one. Schools like West Virginia and Louisville had success with Prop 48 players -- non-qualifiers who failed to meet standards set by the NCAA Clearinghouse. But the Big East banned schools from taking in these players in 2006, something that then-West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez railed against. The vote from university presidents on the matter was 13-3, so you have to wonder whether ideas have changed that much in five years.
On the recruiting front, I am not so sure allowing texting and social media interaction is going to be good for anyone. I like the limits that have been set because it allows some measure of distance between recruits and those who are courting them. I will be interested to hear what the Big East coaches have to say on this matter, and whether it would change the recruiting game all that much should these avenues be open once again.
As for the enforcement staff, I absolutely agree the NCAA has got to step up in this area. I have said many times that most of these big cases in the news now, from Ohio State to USC to Oregon to North Carolina, were reported first by news organizations, not by the NCAA enforcement staff busting down the doors of said institutions. Do you know there are 23 investigators working for the NCAA -- an organization with more than 1,000 member schools?
To me, this is the No. 1 issue that must be addressed at the presidential retreat. The NCAA cannot afford to have another year like the one it just had, with off-the-field headlines marring teams and performances. We will see whether Big East commissioner John Marinatto delivers some of his own thoughts to these ideas during the league media day Aug. 2.