SEC FOOTBALL MEDIA DAYS, BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA July 26, 2006, Mike Slive:
The fact that we have over 700 people in attendance over a three-day period in the heat of late July makes our football media days a unique and special event, one we look forward to every year.
As is our custom, before we look into the current season, I want to take a brief look back at 2005 and 2006. It was a good year for the conference. It was a year marked by tragedy and sadness, as well. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked havoc in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, causing unimaginable destruction and dislocation.
The heroic efforts of many, including student-athletes, coaches and administrators, as well as the SEC's million dollar donation, were important contributions to a massive relief effort.
In short, in 10 of the 20 sports the SEC sponsors, we were either the national champion or the national champion runner-up.
71 of our student athletes won individual national championships, and 460 were first team All-Americans.
159 SEC teams participated in NCAA post-season play last year, which represents two-thirds of all the teams in the league. Simply put, the SEC continues to be the best broad-based athletic conference for men and women in the country.
On the all-important academic side, I am pleased to report that more than 2100 student-athletes representing 40% of all of our student-athletes earned SEC academic honor roll status. The NCAA's top 8 Award, given annually to eight outstanding senior student-athletes, has been awarded to 16 SEC student-athletes during the last nine years. No other conference has had as many student-athletes so honored.
Speaking of changes, the six-win Bowl eligibility rule is backs. You remember that when we had 12-game seasons under the old format, we had a six-game rule. That is now back on a permanent basis, which means that a conference team with six wins in a 12-game season is eligible to play in a Bowl in which the conference has a contractual relationship.
In order to be eligible to fill at-large Bowl openings where the conference does not have a contractual relationship, a team must have seven wins in a 12-game season.