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Sweeping changes proposed

HOOVER – If Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive has his way, there will be some major changes in college athletics. And schools with lesser resources will just have to deal it.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier doesn't agree with some of Slive's suggestions.

Wednesday, on the first day of SEC Media Days, Slive laid out the SEC’s vision of what should happen going forward. In that vision:

Athletes would receive scholarships that cover the full cost of attendance.

“Cost of attendance is not a term invented by conference commissioners,” Slive said. “It is an educationally based, commonly accepted standard that can be properly administered with each university’s financial aid office.

“We recognize this proposal may be a financial hardship on some, yet at the same time, economics cannot always be the reason to avoid doing what is in the best interests of our student-athletes.”

Slive also proposes that athletic scholarships would be multi-year agreements instead of the one-year agreements they are now.

It would be more difficult for freshmen or junior college transfers to be academically eligible.

Slive proposes raising the required GPA in a core curriculum from 2.0 to 2.5, with a caveat. There would again be partial qualifiers. Athletes who meet the current standard but not the proposed new one could sign, receive aid and practice but could not play.

“A suggested approach,” Slive said, “is to include a full analysis of a prospect’s academic performance throughout his or her high school career to give us a better picture and more complete picture of the individual’s preparation for college work.”

Under tight regulations, athletes aspiring to play professionally would be able to seek advice from agents as long as no money changed hands.

“It is important that we in the membership refocus our efforts on developing a regulatory approach that permits agents to better assist student-athletes with their aspirations as they make the transition to the pro ranks,” Slive said, “while at the same time maintaining the prohibition on the provision of material benefits.”

Recruiting rules would be simplified, abandoning the idea of trying to make a level playing field among every schools.

“It’s time to push the reset button on the regulatory approach to recruiting in order to move away from the idea that recruiting rules are designed to create a level playing field,” Slive said. “There are significant differences between institutions and resources, climate, tradition, history, stadiums and fan interest among many other things that make the idea of a level playing field an illusion.”

Slive suggests rules that don’t “criminalize harmless behavior.”

“Permit the effective use of personal electronic communication between prospects and institutional staff members to include phone calls, text messaging , Facebook, Twitter and other social media,” Slive said.

He also suggests making the recruiting calendar simpler. “Maybe,” he said, “we can make the so-called bump rule history.”

Based on the response of coaches on the podium, not all of Slive’s idea will be warmly embraced in his own league. Raising the GPA requirement could create significant difficult for schools, including most in the SEC, that recruit players from poor backgrounds and troubled schools.

The idea of multi-year scholarships wasn’t particularly popular either. But coaches don’t have a vote.

“They might not listen,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said, “but I can state my opinion.”

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