SEC Acquires NCAA: Hostile Takeover of Notre Dame Fails
I sat down with Mike Slive, Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. After some initial pleasantries, we discussed the SEC’s recent acquisition of the NCAA.
Collins: To many this seems like a surprising move, Mike. How did it come about?
Slive: Well, Michael, we’re very honored to make the NCAA part of the Southeastern Conference Corporation of Holdings. We think it fits into what we want to do with our conference. We welcome all those universities who have been part of the NCAA to the SEC.
Collins: How much did it cost?
Slive: Of course, I can’t discuss exact figures. As you know, after signing our recent television contracts, we had a $3 billion windfall. Initially, we committed to support the education of our student-athletes. We decided to lower our admission standards to the NCAA minimum and look around for other opportunities. What return does education get you? We could have acquired the state of California, but that’s a sinkhole for future money, too. We settled on the NCAA.
Collins: My sources tell me you were interested in acquiring Notre Dame football.
Slive: That wasn’t supposed to get out. I know Fr. Jenkins from the BCS Oversight Committee. We had some friendly discussions—even getting to the point of discussing valuations. I tell you those Holy Cross priests are businessmen. They’ve built quite a brand name. We were excited.
Collins: What was the hang-up?
Slive: The Pope got wind of it. We were forced into a hostile takeover bid. Even with the backing of ESPN/ABC though, you can’t fight the Church. He’s quite a fan–the Pope—even to the point of selling some Michelangelos, if it came down to it. He watches every game in the Vatican Theater with his ND cap on. Ol’ Benedict threatened to establish a world-wide Pope Network that would air Notre Dame games to every Catholic throughout the world. Imagine! We capitulated.
Collins: Will you regret not being able to acquire Notre Dame football?
Slive: When I look back, Notre Dame will probably always be the one that got away. The Irish are such a unique brand. You either love them or hate them. We like that model. We could’ve held it for a few years, building the brand by matching the Irish against Alabama or Florida. Think of the love-hate and further exposure that would have brought. ESPN has been drooling to sink their teeth into that television contract. Then we could have spun it off and been rolling in dough.
Collins: Why the NCAA? Why not Texas? Or the ACC?
Slive: Texas maintains a unique position in the great state of …, but ever try selling Texas to Californians or New Yorkers? Those were markets we wanted to get into. Notre Dame football seemed the ideal fit. I admire the ACC institutions and their commitment to education, but please, where’s the beef? The NCAA presents some unique opportunities for us and, between you and me, was less expensive.
Collins: What are your immediate plans for the new NCAA/SEC?
Slive: A number of changes. Let me reveal a couple.
First, we want full control over all visual images from each game. Our new SEC Digital Network now has rights to every picture taken at every NCAA game. We want to make college football lucrative to those few that can continue to participate.
Second, the history of college football will be changed. National Championships by SEC teams and legitimate All-Americans have been ignored by eastern media and that we will change that. The College Football Hall of Fame will be moved south. We’re considering moving it into the Bear Bryant Museum.
Collins: Is there anything else you’d like to add, Mike?
Slive: No, it’s been my pleasure, Michael. You’ve been a real gentleman. Who do you write for anyway?
Slive: Hmm, haven’t heard of either. Luckily, it appears our conversation won’t reach much of an audience.
Collins: Well, Bleacher Report, for instance, now appears on CBS Sportline, ESPN and Yahoo! Sports websites.
Slive: Whoa, I had no idea… How much would you say Bleacher Report is worth? We might be interested. Also, tell me more about Clashmore Mike… You know fans can be businessmen, too.