Mike Slive, his impact on the SEC and Alabama’s rise to glory


As news that former SEC commissioner Mike Slive has passed away, the legacy he leaves behind runs deep. His impact on the conference is felt through its members, including the University of Alabama.

Sadly, we learned Wednesday former SEC commissioner Mike Slive passed away at the age of 77. Slive led the SEC as commissioner from 2002-2015. In that time, nine of the then-12 conference teams were on NCAA probation. Slive brought those schools out of those probations and brought the entire conference to a golden age. An age where the championships were plenty and the attention (the good kind) grew ever larger.

Alabama fans should remember all Mike Slive did for the University. So, we decided to write a thank you note to list all that he has done to impact the University as well as the conference.

Bringing Alabama Up Front

While the former commissioner cannot be directly related to the hiring of Nick Saban, there are much bigger impacts that helped rise Alabama to the cream of the crop in the college sports market.

One of Slive’s biggest impacts was signing a landmark 15 year deal with ESPN to televise SEC sporting events. At the time, it was the longest contract ESPN had ever signed. That deal brought in the golden age of broadcasting college sports. After Alabama football won its first national championship in 2009, ESPN couldn’t get enough Alabama and took every game Alabama was playing that CBS didn’t want.

While football is the clear money-maker, Alabama’s other sports needed attention as well. The landmark ESPN deal brought some lesser-televised sports to fans. Slive wanted more. The more became the launch of the SEC Network in 2014.

As Alabama won championships in softball, gymnastics and other sports, the SEC Network gave those sports national TV exposure. Even if they were not featured on the air, fans could access SEC Network+ and get every game. Many people outside of Tuscaloosa would know about Alabama softball if it wasn’t for the SEC network.

TV wasn’t the only impact Slive had on Alabama, though.

Funding the Process

When Slive was hired, $95.7 million dollars were shared to the 12 schools of the SEC. That number multiplied by just under five times that amount, around $455 million dollars when he retired. That’s not chump change. Much of that is coming from the TV money.

Money went into all sorts of programs for UA. Probably the biggest impact has been facilities. In an environment where having the best facilities in the college sports is necessary, Alabama benefitted greatly from the expanded coffers of the SEC.

Alabama just finished rebuilding the baseball stadium and in the process of the finishing a new athletics dining hall. Recruiting will benefit for generations.

Increased money for athletics also helps bring in some of the best minds to Alabama. Between Nick Saban, Avery Johnson and others on the coaching staff in the athletic department, Alabama has an excellent lineup of coaches to help develop players.

Slive had a hand in all of that. We have him to thank for enlarging the profile of the SEC and the University of Alabama. His impact on college sports will be felt for years to come.

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We wish to send our condolences to Slive’s family on this loss. The man will be long remembered and missed.