Southeastern Conference

Mike Slive

SEC makes court-storming even costlier to schools with rule change

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In December 2004 the Southeastern Conference became the first league to institute rules prohibiting fans from celebrating big wins by rushing the court or field. If a school failed in keeping spectators off the court they’d be fined, with the amount being $5,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second and $50,000 for a third.

Friday on the final day of the conference’s annual meetings, the SEC announced that fans rushing the court would cost its member schools even more in the future.

Instead of $5,000, a first offense will cost a school $50,000 with the fines for second and third offenses increasing to $100,000 and $250,000, respectively. These changes were approved by the schools, and the commissioner would be allowed to apply additional penalties (those aren’t specified in the announcement) if he saw fit to do so.

“This is designed to be a deterrent,” outgoing SC commissioner Mike Slive said, according to ESPN.com. “This is designed to try to change the culture about rushing the field, understanding that it’s viewed by some as a tradition. But it’s a tradition that runs into the question of health and safety of not only the fans themselves but the coaches and players.”

Also of note in this change is the fact that after the third offense, $250,000 is the least that a school would pay for its fans rushing the court of field. Originally the counting of offenses would “reset” three years after the first instance of fans violating the rule.

SEC announces new men’s basketball scheduling format

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For some conferences, the task of putting together a schedule has become a bit more cumbersome thanks to conference realignment with the size of the league ruling out the possibility of every team playing each other twice. With that being the case adjustments need to be made, and for the SEC this means a new scheduling format that was revealed at the conference’s annual meetings in Destin, Florida on Thursday.

While the number of conference games each team plays, 18, will not change the setup for the schedules has changed. In total each team will play five opponents both home and away with three of those being “permanent” opponents that they’ll see twice a year every season. They’ll face the other eight teams on the schedule just once, with four of those games being home contests and four coming on the road.

The conference also announced the three “permanent” opponents for each team, and they are:

Alabama – Auburn / Mississippi State / LSU
Arkansas – Missouri / Texas A&M / LSU
Auburn – Alabama / Ole Miss / Georgia
Florida – Kentucky / Georgia / Vanderbilt
Georgia – South Carolina / Florida / Auburn
Kentucky – Florida / Tennessee / Vanderbilt
LSU – Texas A&M / Alabama / Arkansas
Ole Miss – Mississippi State / Auburn / Missouri
Mississippi State – Ole Miss / Alabama / South Carolina
Missouri – Arkansas / Texas A&M / Ole Miss
South Carolina – Georgia / Tennessee / Mississippi State
Tennessee – Vanderbilt / Kentucky / South Carolina
Texas A&M – LSU / Arkansas / Missouri
Vanderbilt – Tennessee / Kentucky / Florida

According to the release the full SEC conference schedule will be unveiled in August. The SEC’s done a good job of protecting many of its rivalries with this move, and scheduling stability can only help the league moving forward. Five teams reached the NCAA tournament this past season, and the SEC is expected to take a step forward in 2015-16.

Big 12/SEC Challenge to be a one-day affair next season

Champions Classic: Kansas v. Kentucky
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In each of the first two seasons of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, the schedule has been a bit spread out. The first event, held during the 2013-14 season, spanned the months of November and December with this year’s version being better from a scheduling standpoint with games being held from December 3-6.

Thursday the conferences announced another change to the schedule, and it’s one that should help the profile of the event moving forward.

Next year’s Challenge will consist of ten games played on one day, January 30, 2016. The four SEC programs that aren’t selected for the event will play a conference game on that day, with those two matchups being determined by the SEC Network according to the release.

“Moving the Big 12/SEC Challenge later in the season will raise the profile of this event and give our coaches, student-athletes and fans the attention that it deserves,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in the release.

By that point in the season the conferences will have a better idea of which games would best benefit them from an NCAA tournament resume standpoint, although it isn’t stated in the release when the ten Challenge games will be determined. If there’s a way to simply determine which teams will host a game and which will have to travel before the season begins, that could lend itself to greater flexibility when it comes to figuring out the matchups.

According to the release, in future years the goal for the conferences will be to find a common open date in either January or February to hold the event.

SEC administrators discuss autonomy at league meetings in Florida

Mike Slive
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One of the biggest issues in collegiate athletics these days is how the member schools will be governed. With the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC making the most money due in large part to their football-fueled television/bowl revenue streams, those conferences would like to have more control over how they do things such as meeting the full cost of attendance for their scholarship athletes.

That’s led to discussions about autonomy, with those five leagues hoping to make changes to the way in which they provide for their athletes (meeting the full cost of attendance, for example) while remaining under the NCAA umbrella. But in order for that to happen the conferences will need more leeway to pass measures that would allow them to do more for their student-athletes.

Those issues will be discussed in August by an NCAA steering committee, and at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla. last week multiple administrators spoke of what could happen if they weren’t allowed to do more.

The current voting thresholds would require two-thirds of “Power Five” schools, 15 students and four of the five power conferences voting in favor of autonomy for that to occur. The SEC would like to see those thresholds lowered to 60 percent and three of five conferences to go along with the 15 students who would be a part of the voting process.

Based upon their arguments those numbers would make it easier for the proposed legislation to pass. And if the measures that would allow those programs to do more were to fall short of those marks? SEC commissioner Mike Slive said the following:

“I think if it doesn’t pass, I think the next move would be to go to the Division IV,” Slive said. “It’s not something we want to do.”

“But within that structure, we want the ability to have autonomy in areas that has a nexus to the well-being of student athletes. I am somewhat optimistic it will pass, but if it doesn’t our league would certainly want to move to a Division IV. My colleagues, I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t feel the same way.”

Part of the desire for autonomy stems from the number of lawsuits that currently hover over collegiate athletics, including the Ed O’Bannon suit that’s scheduled to begin on June 9. Will the five conferences look to make a move should they not get the votes? That remains to be seen, but given how much money those leagues bring in that may not be a question the other conferences are willing to wait for an answer on.

“If we don’t get it, I think there will be a real — I don’t want to use the ‘C’ word (crisis) — but there will be some real difficult times ahead for the NCAA and for the five conferences,” Florida president Bernie Machen said according to the Gainesville Sun. “The thing that’s interesting about it is the NCAA needs this to work as much as we do because they’re on the point as well.

“But I’m not convinced (it will happen). This has to be approved. First, the steering committee has to submit their final proposal, the board has to vote on it in August, then the membership has to vote on it in January. So we have quite a long ways to go before this gets approved.”

SEC schools will receive more than $20 million apiece

Mike Slive
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It definitely pays to be a member of one of the five conferences deemed to be the “most powerful” in collegiate athletics, and on Friday it was announced that SEC members are in line for a significant payday.

Each of the 14 schools will receive at least $20.9 million thanks to the SEC’s television deals, conference championships, bowl tie-ins and NCAA tournament units according to the Columbia (Mo.) Tribune. While the SEC office will distribute $292.8 million the total amount of money to be given to the schools is around $309.6 million, with the difference ($16.8 million) being split up amongst the schools whose football programs played in bowl games last year.

The league’s total distribution rose 1.6 percent from last year ($304.7 million) and 20.5 percent from 2011-12 ($256.9 million).

The SEC reported $248.1 million in distribution for 2011, $233.3 million in 2010 and $165.9 million in 2009.

The question for the SEC heading into the next fiscal year, which begins on September 1, is how much of an impact their new network will have on the amount of money schools are able to reel in. The Pac-12 distributed between $19.76 and $19.89 million to 11 of its 12 members, with Utah receiving just $10,161, 334 due to an agreement that doesn’t allow them to receive a full share until the 2015 fiscal year.

The Pac-12 distributed just over $228 million to its 12 members, with its total revenues reported to be nearly $334 million when adding in investments into the conference. The Big 12 announced that its ten members will split some $220 million, and the Big Ten and ACC have done well in the revenue department as well.

Those numbers are why schools worked their hardest (and still do) to land a spot in one of those five conferences.

Jabari Brown nets 12 in debut for Missouri

South Carolina State v Missouri
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Frank Haith has to rely on a ton of transfers this season. Quite possibly the most important of all of them debuted tonight in Jabari Brown.

Brown, a 6-5 swingman who came from Oregon, finished with 12 points in a 102-51 home win over South Carolina State. In all, Brown went for his 12 on 3-for-9 shooting, 1-for-7 from three-point range and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. He chipped in three assists, a rebound and two turnovers in 20 minutes off the bench.

Many believe Brown is the missing piece that will steady Missouri, who needed a little better guard play since Michael Dixon decided to leave the team. Brown’s off to a solid start.

The transfers have been doing fine without him, though. Earnest Ross had a team-high 16 in a balanced effort from Missouri where five players finished in double-figures. In all, 10 players played at least 15 minutes as well.

I guess now this puts Brown in front as the newcomer of the night between himself, UNLV’s Khem Birch and Georgia Tech’s Solomon Poole. All three players are eligible tonight for their first game action.

David Harten is a sportswriter and college basketball blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.