. -- The Southeastern Conference sent a strong message to the NCAA on Friday: provide the Power Five some autonomy or they'll form their own division.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said if the Power Five conferences -- which also include the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 12, the Power Ten and the Pac-12 -- don't get the flexibility needed to create their own bylaws, the next step would be to move to "Division IV."
"It's not something we want to do," Slive said on the final day of the SEC meetings. "We want to the ability to have autonomy in areas that has a nexus to the well-being of student athletes. I am somewhat optimistic it will pass, but if it doesn't, our league would certainly want to move to a Division IV. My colleagues, I can't speak for anybody else, but I'd be surprised if they didn't feel the same way."
“ We hope everyone realizes we are moving into a new era and (Division IV) is the way to retain your collegiate model. It would be a disappointment and in my view a mistake not to adapt the model. This is a historic moment. If we don't seize the moment, we'll make a mistake. Moving to Division IV would keep the Power Five under the NCAA umbrella while granting college football's biggest money makers the kind of power to better take care of student-athletes. The SEC, for example, would like to pay full cost of college attendance, provide long-term medical coverage and offer incentives to kids who return to school and complete degrees.
University of Florida President Bernie Machen wasn't nearly as confident about staying in Division I.
"We're in a squeeze here," Machen said. "There are now six lawsuits that name our conference in them that specifically have to do with the whole cost of attendance and stuff like that. We would like to make changes, but we can't because the NCAA doesn't allow us to. We're really caught between a rock and a hard play. We desperately would like some flexibility."
The SEC wants the NCAA steering committee to adopt its proposal for the voting threshold, which would allow the Big Five to pass legislation with more ease. The NCAA board of directors will vote on the steering committee's proposal in August.
Currently, the NCAA requires two-thirds vote of the 65 schools and 15 student representatives as well as four out of five conferences.
"What we fear is that nothing will change because the threshold is so high," Machen said. "We're asking them to lower the threshold, which we propose is 60 percent and three conferences. With three conferences out of five and 60 percent of the 65 and 15, you can make those kinds of changes."
” -- SEC commissioner Mike Slive