Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee
By ASSOCIATED PRESS  |  Last updated 9/20/13
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive remains very critical of the NCAA's rules governing agents, an issue that continues to plague his league. "I feel like the current NCAA rules and regulations are part of the problem, they're not part of the solution," Slive said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. It was virtually a repeat of his message at SEC media days three years ago when agent-related incidents also prompted investigations at three schools. Slive is adamant change is needed. "What we had hoped for was for a total rethink of the rules and regulations as they relate to agents," Slive said. "A task force was formed and began to do some work and then for reasons I'm not clear on, the conversations ended." He's pushing for changes in the NCAA that include affording prospect-heavy leagues like the SEC, which had 63 players chosen in this year's NFL draft, the authority to create their own rules to curb such problems. The agent issue is back in the news again forefront once again even as several SEC teams are in the mix to extend the league's national title streak to eight seasons. A recent Yahoo report said a runner for agents provided improper benefits to football players at Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi State. It's potentially the most damaging of several issues involving an SEC team, player or coach since the summer. Sports Illustrated cited widespread violations at Oklahoma State that began under current LSU coach Les Miles. Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was suspended a half-game by the school for "inadvertent" rules violations involving autographs. Still, Slive said it's nothing like the situation he inherited in taking over the SEC in 2002. Five football programs at that time were on probation or under investigation. He said with individuals and organizations "progress is two steps forward with an occasional one step backward." No coaches were cited as participants in any wrongdoing in the Yahoo report, and Slive said such allegations are about individual not institutional behavior. All three schools have said they're reviewing the allegations, and Tennessee has made the only current player named in the report -- defensive lineman Maurice Couch -- ineligible. "There is no relationship to these events that have occurred recently to what took place years ago, because first of all our institutions deal with these issues in a very, very comprehensive, clear way with integrity," Slive said. "We have a very different environment than we had in 2002 when I came." Mississippi State and Tennessee's football programs are currently on probation for previous violations. Slive said universities should be able to help players, not hinder them, when it comes to agents. "We need to create rules that allow our student-athletes to deal with agents in sunshine, not deal with runners that are going down back alleys," he said. "We need to provide a different way to deal with agents, so we've been disappointed that this hasn't taken place." The Yahoo report cited text messages and financial records of former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis and an unnamed NFL source who said Davis was a go-between for the players with NFL agents and financial advisers. Davis allegedly engaged in transactions totaling more than 45,000 with three NFL agents and three financial advisers. Miles has said he and his staff did nothing wrong at Oklahoma State, where he coached from 2001-04. Oklahoma State is reviewing accusations in a Sports Illustrated report that allegedly occurred between 2001 and 2010. Those include cash payments to players from boosters and assistant coaches, sham jobs for which players were paid and academic fraud. Miles said in the wake of the allegations that he took issue with "the idea that somebody would characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and correct." He also said those making the accusations had been dismissed and "weren't there long enough to figure it out." Despite all the issues facing the SEC, Slive defended how his league conducts its business. "I don't like them," Slive said, "they're disappointing, but they're not systemic."
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