Slive: NCAA rules on agents 'part of the problem'

Slive: NCAA rules on agents 'part of the problem'

Published Sep. 20, 2013 9:01 a.m. ET

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike
Slive remains very critical of the NCAA's rules governing agents, an
issue that continues to plague his league.

"I feel like the current NCAA rules and
regulations are part of the problem, they're not part of the solution,"
Slive said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. It was
virtually a repeat of his message at SEC media days three years ago when
agent-related incidents also prompted investigations at three schools.

Slive is adamant change is needed.

"What we had hoped for was for a total
rethink of the rules and regulations as they relate to agents," Slive
said. "A task force was formed and began to do some work and then for
reasons I'm not clear on, the conversations ended."

He's pushing for changes in the NCAA
that include affording prospect-heavy leagues like the SEC, which had 63
players chosen in this year's NFL draft, the authority to create their
own rules to curb such problems.

The agent issue is back in the news
again forefront once again even as several SEC teams are in the mix to
extend the league's national title streak to eight seasons.

A recent Yahoo report said a runner for
agents provided improper benefits to football players at Alabama,
Tennessee and Mississippi State.

It's potentially the most damaging of several issues involving an SEC team, player or coach since the summer.

Sports Illustrated cited widespread
violations at Oklahoma State that began under current LSU coach Les
Miles. Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was suspended a
half-game by the school for "inadvertent" rules violations involving

Still, Slive said it's nothing like the situation he inherited in taking over the SEC in 2002.

Five football programs at that time
were on probation or under investigation. He said with individuals and
organizations "progress is two steps forward with an occasional one step

No coaches were cited as participants
in any wrongdoing in the Yahoo report, and Slive said such allegations
are about individual not institutional behavior. All three schools have
said they're reviewing the allegations, and Tennessee has made the only
current player named in the report -- defensive lineman Maurice Couch --

"There is no relationship to these
events that have occurred recently to what took place years ago, because
first of all our institutions deal with these issues in a very, very
comprehensive, clear way with integrity," Slive said. "We have a very
different environment than we had in 2002 when I came."

Mississippi State and Tennessee's football programs are currently on probation for previous violations.

Slive said universities should be able to help players, not hinder them, when it comes to agents.

"We need to create rules that allow our
student-athletes to deal with agents in sunshine, not deal with runners
that are going down back alleys," he said. "We need to provide a
different way to deal with agents, so we've been disappointed that this
hasn't taken place."

The Yahoo report cited text messages
and financial records of former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis and
an unnamed NFL source who said Davis was a go-between for the players
with NFL agents and financial advisers. Davis allegedly engaged in
transactions totaling more than $45,000 with three NFL agents and three
financial advisers.

Miles has said he and his staff did nothing wrong at Oklahoma State, where he coached from 2001-04.

Oklahoma State is reviewing accusations
in a Sports Illustrated report that allegedly occurred between 2001 and
2010. Those include cash payments to players from boosters and
assistant coaches, sham jobs for which players were paid and academic

Miles said in the wake of the
allegations that he took issue with "the idea that somebody would
characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and
correct." He also said those making the accusations had been dismissed
and "weren't there long enough to figure it out."

Despite all the issues facing the SEC, Slive defended how his league conducts its business.

"I don't like them," Slive said, "they're disappointing, but they're not systemic."