Is Mike Slive as powerless as he makes himself out to be?

I picked on him yesterday, but Clay Travis raises an interesting point in today’s Camgate post:

The Southeastern Conference bylaws offer specific language that could render Auburn quarterback Cam Newton ineligible to play any sport at all league institutions. That’s what careful study of the Ethical Conduct provision of the SEC bylaws has revealed to FanHouse. In particular, Section 14.01.3.2 dealing with Financial Aid states (bold added for emphasis):

“If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of this Conference (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student- athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the Conference for the remainder of his/her college career.”

It has been alleged that Cecil Newton, who is Cam Newton’s father, solicited payment
for his son to attend Mississippi State. If this is true, a clear reading of this SEC bylaw would suggest that in making this demand “a student-athlete or any member of his/her family … agrees to receive, directly or directly,” an improper benefit that would rule him ineligible not just at the school in question but at all schools in the conference in every sport. A solicitation is a request or encouragement of another to perform an act. If Cecil Newton solicited Mississippi State then he agreed to receive the improper benefits by nature of the solicitation.

It’s that “agrees to receive” that’s the nub.  Clay argues that’s implicit in making a solicitation in the first place, but what little I remember from my first year contracts class in law school is that it takes an offer and acceptance to reach an agreement.

I will say that if Clay’s right, Slive doesn’t seem to be as lacking in authority to act as he claims he is.  And perhaps it’s somewhat revealing that the commissioner who isn’t afraid to throw his weight around when coaches snipe at each other – or more relevantly, when a member school reports information on a potential violation directly to the NCAA instead of going through league channels – seems reluctant to involve himself more in what could turn out to be one of the biggest scandals in SEC history.

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37 Comments

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37 responses to “Is Mike Slive as powerless as he makes himself out to be?

  1. JBJ

    I just don’t understand these guys. So if my estranged Father goes out and gets compensation without my knowledge, then he ruined my football career? What if my brother is a moron that is down on his luck and solicits money from boosters at a college promising my services? How is that fair?

    I hope that this rule is up for interpretation in regards to the athlete’s knowledge of the violation. And yes, I realize there could be collusion between the athlete and his family member.

    • 69Dawg

      It would make the NCAA’s case a little easier if the phone call attributed to Cam to the MSU recruiter was recorded. I believe the sad story of wanting to go to MSU but Daddy said the money was not there is a game ender as far as Cam not knowing what is going on.

    • Problem I have with your point in this particular case is that it was clear that Cam allowed his dad to have a great deal of say in the decision.

      The league doesn’t have any authority over Cecil, only those who are associated with its members, so it really doesn’t have much choice about where to direct punishment if it wants to discourage that sort of activity.

    • gernblanski

      JBJ – What you just described above is how Reggie Bush/USC etc. tried to defend themselves with the NCAA. Technically, the agent did not pay Reggie – he paid Reggie’s family. I may remember it incorrectly, but I believe the agent was paying Reggie’s stepfather.

      Also, if the player and institution can build the case that the relative does not have on-going relationship, I would think that NCAA would rule in favor of the player.

      However, in this case Cecil is not estranged from Cam. So your point is moot. It is pretty much on the record that Cecil was intimately involved in Cam’s recruitment.

  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    You’re right about Clay’s legal error. Until Mississippi State accepts, Cecil could withdraw his offer and there’s no agreement.

    Biggest scandal dept.? Might be in the top 5 nationally by the time it’s over. Only thing I can think of that’s close is Villanova vacating the runner up position in the NCAA basketball tournament in 71 or 72, because of Howard Porter. SMU got nailed bad, but they were sliding by that time anyway.

    Like Auburn or hate Auburn, it might be the collateral damage.

    • JoeBulldog

      Hate Auburn. Just saying.

    • Keese

      The key word here is “solicitation”. Does not have to be an implied constructive agreement between the two parties.

      • The SEC by-law Clay cites doesn’t use the word “solicitation”. That word appears in the NCAA regs.

      • AmpedDawg

        The Senator made the point that I was going to make, which is that based on the citation that Clay uses it isn’t, from the conference’s standpoint, improper to solicit cash for play. The only thing that would get the Newton’s would be if there was evidence that Cecil stated that if MSU would pay them $180,000 then Cam would play at MSU. THAT would be an agreement to receive. I may be wrong, but my recollection is that Cecil just stated that it was going to cost something for Cam to play at MSU, that it was going to take more than a scholarship for Cam to play at MSU, or something along those lines.

        Perhaps I’m off base (and I’m an attorney so I know where the Senator is coming from with his argument), but I don’t think that the SEC is using the phrase “agree to receive” in the legal sense of Contracts taught in the first year of law school. I think that the SEC is stating that at the point (whether or not the improper benefit has been delivered) where a player or member of his family agrees that the player or family member will accept an improper benefit the player become ineligible. This is more along the lines of conspiracy – at least the way I read the rule as Clay has stated it.

  3. 69Dawg

    If the SEC and the NCAA let this one slip through the loop hole Auburn hopes they can create then it is open season for parents to shop their kids. Slive has too much money in the fight to be objective, so it will be up to the NCAA to do what gets done. Either way the SEC has now lost any of the credibility that it had hoped to build up when Slive was the new sheriff in town.

    While the contract example is correct I’m pretty sure that the party that offers the contract means to accept the contract as long as the offeree does not alter the terms of said offer. So there was no contract but there was an intent to contract on Cecil’s part. Like I said if this slides through then the NCAA/SEC might just as well give up.

    Another point is that the SEC wants to punish MSU for not following the SEC’s procedures. My guess is that MSU felt that the SEC would ignore the complaint as a sour grapes complaint. If MSU gets any punishment out of this then the SEC is just too dumb to live in this world. Florida on the other hand might have it’s hands full if the academic fraud thing turns out to bit them.

    • Julie

      I think you might be right about the SEC being too dumb to live in this world. You raise a valid point about Newton being allowed to transfer to another college while having academic fraud(s) still outstanding, and UF will have to deal with the issue of whether it was under a duty to report this.

      Slive doesn’t like making tough decisions. How many teams, — not just UGA — have lost games due to incompetent and/or corrupt officials? Other than an occasional Monday apology, things are status quo.

      In this situation, MSU has become a very uncomfortable Burr under the saddle for Slive. I think the MSU Athletic Director probably followed guidelines when the two assistant coaches reported the telephone calls, the first of which would have made Newton ineligible because of the solicitation by Cecil. I think this information was timely forwarded to the SEC office, but Slive was loathe to let the press get hold of this tidbit, and didn’t think he would need to address it because 5-19 Chizik was the coach at Auburn, and between Saban, Miles, and Ryan Mallett (I really don’t want to give Petrino much due), Slive was content to let them do the dirty work by one of them winning the West so the pay scheme could be relegated to a closed out file in Birmingham.

      Auburn’s problem is that when they were made aware of MSU’s report back in July, one of two things happened:

      1) Jay Jacobs called Stricklin, the MSU Athletic Director, and asked for verification concerning the phone calls between Cecil, Cam, and the two MSU assistant coaches. Are the coaches at this point going to say, “Well, we just reported that to the SEC some months ago, but none of this really happened?” It is preposterous to think they would not have made the same statement to Jacobs as they made to the SEC office, in which case Jacobs knew Newton was ineligible back in July; or

      2) Auburn never followed up with MSU and they played Newton without conducting any investigation, which would still render Newton ineligible, and out the Auburn AD as a liar for stating that he conducted a thorough investigation.

      Damon Evans, on the worst night of his life, could not have handled this more poorly.

      Just as Auburn is “all in” with Newton, Jabobs is “all in” with Chizik. He made an enormously unpopular hire, and I think he was using any edge he could get against the powers in the SEC West. Playing Newton has delivered an 11-0 record. We can only guess what the record would be without #2.

      I think when all the dust settles, Newton and Daddy will be counting his NFL money — whether or not Mrs. Newton knows –and Chizik, Jacobs, and Slive will be looking for employment elsewhere if they can find it.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I hope you are right. Slive particularly needs to be gone. He pretends that he “cleaned up” the SEC when in reality the exact opposite is true. The SEC Commissioner’s conduct in this matter is the worst example of what can happen to college sports when the people running it are only about money. Slive has no personal or professional integrity whatsoever and it is a shame that the powers in the SEC have let this third-rater from C-USA destroy the institutional integrity of the finest collegiate sports conference in America. The Presidents of the SEC member universities collectively need to disavow what Slive has done and fire him as soon as is reasonably possible.

      • Macallanlover

        Great post Julie. While there is much yet to come, there is no way Auburn will come out of this clean, they either ignored the storm warnings, or took a silly, high-risk on Saturday after everyone know the likelihood of Newton’s family involvement was virtually certain. Foolish gamble for an AD and President to take. (I will exclude Chizik from being one of the stupid people in a position of authority. We have all seen what his level of character and integrity is with the actions of Fairley all season long.)

        Slive is the official outside Auburn’s kingdom that must be held accountable for being negligent. He should be fired for his lack of action over the past 11 months in the Newton scandal, and for seasons of not dealing with incompetent officials. Fans should threaten to withhold donations until the Presidents take action to clean up the SEC office.

        • AmpedDawg

          I tend to disagree. I’ll be the first to cheer if I’m wrong and proclaim that the football gods are just and good, but I personally don’t believe that Auburn is going to get anything more than a “we’re going to vacate some wins” type of punishment…which, in my opinion, is about as useful as teets on a boar hog. Sure, some Auburn fans, a few alumni, and school officials will “care” in public, but for the large part most Auburn fans aren’t going to care. I don’t believe that there is any way that the NCAA or SEC is doing anything close to what happened to Southern Cal unless there is proof that Cam or his daddy took money for him to play at Auburn. Just my opinion.

          • Macallanlover

            There is certainly no way to know for sure at this point, and I don’t expect the NCAA to be any worse than USC either, but on the heels of the Reggie Bush incident they cannot ignore a high profile violation of the rules. The violation does not have to be proof of money exchanged, imo, knowledge that the Newtons were shopping makes him ineligible. Before Friday, Auburn may have been able to plead innocent but playing him in the face of information that they would be at risk adds to the punishment they will receive. AU made that decision fully knowing it would likely increase their punishment if charges were substantiated. They rolled the dice, they have to pay what comes up.

      • eatonbeaver

        New rule in two parts : A) You can’t call yourself a commissioner if all your decisions and rules are stupid, and B) if you are the commissioner and thought that Newton’s academic issues would not see the light of day, that the pay for play would never be exposed, that a decision to sit his ass would never have to be made and the whole thing wouldn’t develop into a ginormous scandal, your cynical ass should be fired.
        Slive made a cynical bet that none of this would become a fuck up and that he, knowing better, could pass this off to the dumb ones that don’t know better. I may be labled as a snob by questioning his judgment, but a cynic is far worse.
        s

  4. Ben

    At this point I just hope Auburn gets hit with something. They’re being too smug/dog in a corner/[other mixed metaphor] to get away with this. And if they DO get away with this, no one will ever hear the end of it.

  5. ChicagoDawg

    Slive doesn’t want the accountability that goes with wielding the power available to him or to admit that there was wrong doing in this whole affair — apart from Miss State breaking his precious protocol. There is too much to lose by such an admission (BCS team, ugly stain on the conference, and it is an indictment of the SEC Office that there was perceived lack of rigor, fairness and integrity that resulted in Miss State circumventing them by going directly to the NCAA)

    Among other reforms that this incident should bring about is the abolishment of transfers between member institutions in those cases where a student athelete has been ruled ineligble (either by the Conference, the origional school or the athletic dept/coach). If an athlete is kicked off a team or out of a school there is no reason why a team/school within the same Conference should be allowed to recruit and admit that player, if Slive is the least bit concerned about the image and integrity of the conference.

    • NRBQ

      I recall that Newton left UF on his own.

      But that does beg the question: Should Mett be allowed to transfer from JUCO to LSU, etc, since he WAS booted by CMR?

      • ChicagoDawg

        I think you are correct. At least that was the public report, but if there is any voracity to the claims about academic fraud then I suspect it was a face saving way for both UF and Cam to part ways. This on the heels of the laptop theft.

        The Mettenburger affair is Cam part 2 in my mind. It makes the Conference look completely rogue when teams recruit players who were kicked off teams or thrown out of schools within the Conference.

  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    So, after reading all this, including the responses, I am a little unclear.

    Is Mike Slive a weasel? And if he is, where does he fall in the overall Weasel Spectrum?

    A: right in there with Craig James, or;
    B:worse than Urban Meyer, or;
    C:yet to be determined.

    • Kevin

      I think you have to give him time to respond to what the NCAA/FBI finds. I mean, wouldn’t you want to watch for some salient facts before deciding something MAJOR in this case affecting the entire conference and BCS? Does he want to bring the hammer down? Maybe not. But I doubt he lets the money or greed of AU in the MNC cloud his judgment that much. He just probably wants the investigations to be done and confirmation of these accusations before making rulings. I think he should get a pass until we KNOW what there is to KNOW and see how he reacts.

  7. Russ

    Slive is absolutely useless, but still arrogant. How does that work?

  8. Bright Idea

    Something will happen out of this but well after Auburn’s national championship or bowl game. That way the SEC can max out on money and still look tough. Declaring Newton ineligible now would drop Auburn like a rock in the BCS standings. Either way I don’t see Newton at Auburn in 2011.

  9. Chuck

    Paralysis from analysis.Both the NCAA and the SEC could do something (well, if they had started in January, when they first got notice, they could have) but seem to be hoping it will just go away. Good luck with that.

    Senator, your first year contract analysis is correct except that there is no apparent need for a contract, only an offer (i.e., willingness to receive).

    Meanwhile, Auburn is tainted (okay, that is not a big deal – they have been there before), but also the SECCG and possibly the MNC in the BCS. This ultimately might be how Boise State or TCU gets to the MNC game anyway. Timing is everything.

  10. anon

    People keep arguing that Cam had no clue it was going on, but aren’t there eyewitness reports that Cam called and told the MSU people that the money wasn’t enough and his dad wouldn’t let him go there?

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      There have been “reports” that quoted Newton as saying, tearfully, he really wanted to go to MSU, but that at Awbun, the “money was just too much”. Are these “reports” are accurate….who the hell knows? With this story the NCAA rule book is a model of clarity.

    • Russ

      No, Cam reportedly said his Dad wanted him to go to Auburn. Since MSU wouldn’t give Daddy Newton $180k, Daddy Newton decided that his son should go to Auburn for free. Of course, Cam knew nothing about this.

      (It was very hard to type this with a straight face, BTW.)

  11. Jaybird

    I find it hard to believe that no-one thinks that maybe, just maybe, the MSU side started this mess by offering $$ and now are trying to cover their asses. That’s the way this crap USUALLY works. Just sayin’…

    • Julie

      Jaybird, don’t ever hire a hooker. The money would hardly be on the dresser before you’d be bagging the condom as evidence and calling 911 to report y0urself.

  12. Bulldog Joe

    Slive is a bright guy. His strategy is to run out the clock until the BCS checks come.

    Auburn is playing it smart too. They know the burden of proof is on the NCAA and the FBI. Don’t self admit and let the NCAA screw you (i.e. the UGA strategy).

    They have had almost a year to cover the tracks on what was likely an anonymous charitable donation to a church.

    As long as the booster doesn’t do something stupid, like claim a tax deduction, Auburn will skate.

    Go ahead NCAA and FBI, make my day.

  13. Will Trane

    Geography is such more than a course in school.
    Examples. How can a game in Jacksonville, Florida be deemed a home game every year for the University of Georgia. If a neutral site is desired, then every other year play one in the Dome in Atlanta, Georiga. From a milage point that works out about the same for both teams over a two year period.

    Does it ever come across that two schools in the state of Alabama, fare better than others in the conference when it comes to conference rules and adherence to those rules. Perhaps the SEC office and the conference would be better served if it was in Nashville. And how does Hoover, Alabama become the site for the SEC baseball tournament every year.

    And why should the cities of Atlanta and Jacksonville profit from two SEC games being played within their city limits every year. No SEC school’s campus is located therein. Metro Atlanta will profit from the visitors from Alabama and South Carolina in a few weeks. And Atlanta is home to the AJC which finds a way on a daily basis to attack UGA coaches and players.

    UGA alums, supporters, and fans would love to play for a SEC title in the city of New Orleans. We would be more than happy to drop a few coins there. Perhaps LSU, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State would favor that, too.

    UGA President Adams and AD Greg McGarity are going to soon find out if their interest lies with alums, financial supporters, and fans or it they think their interests lie with the SEC office. Supporters of the University like to remain passionate and generous with their gifts, contributions, and support. They do not want to feel like they belong to the last cow on the path on the way to the milking barn. That view is tolerable for only so long.

    Without a doubt and in a blatant way the SEC office and officials have clearly shown a favortism to Bama and Auburn this year. Are there conflicts of interest involved among the parties.

    Perhaps the Governor of the State of Georgia should ask the State Attorney General to investigate certain individuals rather than rely upon the SEC offce and the NCAA.

    • AmpedDawg

      I’m at a loss. I know I shouldn’t, but God love me I just can’t help it…

      How are the alleged daily attacks by the AJC germane to the location of the SECCG, the revenues generated by the SECCG, or Mike Slive? [Insert Buford T. Justice comment here.]

      I’m a UGA alum, supporter, and fan. If UGA were playing in the SECCG, I’d much rather my money, as well as that of every other Georgia fan and fan of the opposing school and media, be poured right back into my state by way of sales tax dollars, hotel taxes, airport fees and taxes, etc. Of course, I’m a resident of Georgia so I might be a bit biased, but all that revenue benefits the University that I support. I’d hate for the SECCG to be played in New Orleans. Explain how it benefits UGA for the game to be anywhere but Atlanta…

      How exactly does a move from Alabama for the SEC front office to a city like Nashville help the situation? Being that there are two SEC schools in that state, doesn’t that hurt the argument?

      What individuals should the Attorney General in Georgia investigate? The Newton family?

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        “What individuals should the Attorney General in Georgia investigate? The Newton family?” Yes, however the proper government agency/agencies for an investigation based on the facts of the matter as they presently are known would be the FBI and the IRS.