SEC commissioner Mike Slive has heard the criticism.
He’s seen some of the shots his conference commissioner counterparts from around the country have taken at the NCAA and the SEC for the controversial ruling last week that reinstated Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's eligibility.
Slive’s a big boy. He can take it.
While it might viewed as a controversial ruling in most corners of the college football world, Slive thinks it's a just ruling.
He also thinks anybody, be it Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany or anybody else, is misguided if they think the NCAA should have sent a message in this case by making an example out of a student-athlete.
At the end of the day, Slive said it would have been dead wrong to sit Newton down based on the facts of this case.
“The comments that we need to send a message should not be on the back of a student-athlete under the facts of this case where the established facts show that he was not aware of what his father did and he never received anything,” said Slive, referring to Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, who attempted to shop his son to Mississippi State for $180,000.
“[Cam Newton] is at a different institution than the one the father solicited, and the institution that he’s playing at, there’s no evidence that they did anything wrong. The message is better sent through improved legislation, clarifying and strengthening legislation to deal with this issue, and that’s what we’re going to do within these next few weeks.”
Slive made it clear that he fully supports the NCAA reinstatement committee’s decision.
“They took into consideration the No. 1 priority, which is the welfare of the student-athlete,” Slive said. “That was the No. 1 priority based on the facts of this case.”
That said, Slive agreed that the wording of the current NCAA legislation concerning the solicitation of a player was too vague.
“There’s no doubt that the legislation needs to be clearer so that the conduct of a father or the person involved needs to be made clearly a violation,” Slive said. “Then you work from there, and that’s what we will do. The SEC is anxious to be involved helping to create that legislation.”
Slive has heard the comparisons made to the Reggie Bush case, but says it simply doesn’t apply in this instance.
“It’s very important to understand here that [the Reggie Bush case] was a case where a student-athlete got benefits, tangible benefits that he and his family received,” Slive said. “There isn’t evidence in this case that those kind of things happened. The distinction is that there’s no evidence right now that Cam or his family ever received anything.”
Slive said the SEC only became involved during this process once the facts were established.
“We were interested in the interpretation of those facts so we could understand the interpretation,” Slive said. “We had some conversations about that, but that’s really the extent of it.”
He also dismissed the notion that the SEC was somehow more involved in this case because Auburn was No. 1 in the country and its star player and Heisman Trophy front-runner was in limbo. The Tigers have a chance to be the fifth straight national champion out of the SEC.
“We didn’t do any more or any less for Auburn than we would do for any of our schools,” said Slive, noting the league’s policy adopted in 2004 that it would no longer investigate cases, but would only serve in an advisory capacity.
Whereas the reinstatement process has been completed, Slive also noted that the NCAA has indicated that the enforcement investigation has not yet concluded.