From revenue distribution to rules changes that affect every member of the Southeastern Conference, the league announced a variety of important information at the conclusion of its 2015 spring meetings on Friday.
OnlyGators.com is here to break down some of the hot topics and wrap up the proceedings from the league’s four-day event in Destin, Florida.
Money, money, money, money, money
The SEC announced a total distribution of $455.8 million for the 2014-15 season, the highest total in league history and an amount up $146.2 million (47 percent) from the $309.6 million distributed in 2013-14. The conference distributed $436.8 million with $19.0 million coming from “revenue retained by institutions that participated in 2014-15 bowl games.
Each program in the SEC, including the Gators, received approximately $31.2 million, due in large part to year one revenues from the SEC Network. The total is only expected to grow in the future.
“The ability to provide a significant distribution of revenue is more critical than ever for our institutions as they offer more financial and educational benefits to current and former student-athletes,” said outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive in a release. “Beginning this year, our schools will fund new costs associated with providing scholarships based on full cost of attendance, enhance lifetime educational opportunities to former student-athletes and they are developing new facilities such as athletic nutrition centers to the benefit of student-athletes.”
It was a long time coming but the SEC finally increased the fines assessed to programs for allowing fans to rush the field or storm the court after games. Previously, the SEC served fines of $5,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for a third offense – with a three-year gap in violation wiping the slate clean.
Well, the three-year rule is now gone and the first offense fine was multiplied 10-fold, increasing to $50,000. A second violation will result in a $100,000 fine with a third costing a school $250,000.
The more-substantial fine amounts may force schools to be more serious in enforcing the rules after two violations (one football, one basketball) occurred in the 2014-15 season alone.
Florida is one of five (out of 14) SEC schools never to have violated the rule since it went into effect on Dec. 1, 2004 – the other four are Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and Texas A&M (which has only been in the league two years).
The Gators line Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with police officers and security at the end of every football game, whether the score is close or not. The program does the same in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at the end of potential Florida upsets, which are few and far between considering how highly-ranked the program has been over the last few years. (Also, the rowdies of UF’s students are suspended off the court with no direct access to the floor.)
A surprise announcement was made Friday by Slive, who said he will step down as commissioner on June 1 as opposed to July 31, the date his contract expires. Greg Sankey, the SEC commissioner-elect, will replace Slive 61 days earlier than expected.
According to the SEC, Slive will remain with the league “in an advisory role through the length of his contract.” He will then serve a four-year term as a consultant with the conference, beginning Aug. 1, 2015.
Three permanent opponents … for basketball
Removing divisions from SEC basketball a few years ago changed how league scheduling worked. As of last season, each team had one permanent SEC opponent (Florida vs. Kentucky), played three other teams twice each and faced the other eight teams in the league once. The conference decided to make adjustments to that schedule in this week, opting for three permanent opponents (and two rotational home-and-home opponents), which have been distributed as follows:
Florida – Kentucky / Georgia / Vanderbilt
Alabama – Auburn / Mississippi State / LSU
Arkansas – Missouri / Texas A&M / LSU
Auburn – Alabama / Ole Miss / Georgia
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 – Florida / Tennessee / Kentucky
Dropping the hammer on “serious misconduct”
The SEC amended its bylaws and passed a proposal from Georgia to “prohibit a transfer student-athlete who has been subject to official university or athletic department disciplinary action” for serious misconduct.
That “serious misconduct” refers directly to sexual assault, domestic violence or other sexual violence offenses. Players would have to request a waiver to transfer to an SEC team with such offenses in their background.
Presumably, consideration for waiver approval would only be given if legal authorities drop charges or clear a student-athlete of a crime, regardless of school discipline.
Alabama accepted Georgia transfer defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor, who had been accused of domestic assault and dismissed from the program. Taylor was arrested for domestic violence in March and subsequently dismissed by the Tide, leading to criticism for Nick Saban and the Bulldogs to present the rule change at the spring meetings.
Cost of attendance transparency
The SEC has approved a rule that will force each member institution to submit a written report to the league office identifying “other expenses” beyond the general scholarship that it is including in its cost of attendance figures.
With student-athletes able to receive cost of attendance stipends for the first time during the 2015-16 season, there is skepticism among coaches and athletic administrators nationwide that schools could artificially increase the “other expenses” category in order to pay athletes more and use such methods as an advantage in recruiting.
After experimenting with an eight-person officiating crew during the 2014-15 campaign, the SEC has decided to use them in every game next season. The additional referee will work as a center judge who will stand in the offensive backfield and have no pre-snap responsibilities.
The SEC said the eight-man crew last season was “dead in the middle” of the pack in regards to penalties called per game, so the extra referee should not league to more penalties, more reviews or longer games.