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July 17, 2013

Slive pleased with A&M's first year in the SEC

Last year, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive came to SEC Media Days in an ebullient mood, having helped engineer the defection of Texas A&M and the University of Missouri from the Big 12. A year later, Slive is focusing on other issues, but he's quite happy to with how year one for the Aggies and Tigers went.

"On the administrative side, the transition into the league and all the complexities that it involves went very smoothly, so we were able to incorporate them very quickly," he told AggieYell.com Wednesday morning. "Obviously, A&M had a very significant season and had a very significant year with championships. Missouri didn't have that same success, but we are just delighted with both and believe both these institutions will strengthen the conference in the long run."

During his comments in 2012, Slive said the SEC could get to 16 teams "in 15 minutes." This year, he's not as interested entertaining the prospect of making the SEC into the first superconference.

"Expansion is not on our front burner," he said. Instead, the commissioner said he hopes the expansion merry-go-round will come to a halt.

"It appears ... we may be entering an area of some stability," he said. "I think, at least in my view and the view of most, that it would be a healthy thing to stabilize and focus on some other issues."

One issue Slive is excited to talk about is the SEC Network, a partnership with ESPN that will launch in 2014. AT&T U-Verse has already signed on to carry the network, and Slive said the response to it has been "very, very positive."

"There's a lot of excitement. The idea that we're going to put on three games every Saturday in the fall, that's more than the Longhorn Network will put on in a season," he said. "We'll have approximately 45 games, 450 events and the companion digital network."

Having an existing relationship with ESPN, Slive said, will help the SEC Network get rolling from the start.

"With ESPN being our primary media partner, it's a seamless transition when it comes to what games you want to put on the network," he said. "All and all, there's a lot of excitement and getting away from football, it gives our Olympic sports an opportunity for maximum exposure. We pride ourselves in winning national championships in all sports."

Slive worked very closely with Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin in helping the Aggies make the move to the SEC, and he said he was more than a little upset to hear of Loftin's scheduled departure in January 2014.

"Let me say this on a professional and very personal way: I'm very disappointed and sorry Bowen's made this decision. He is, in effect, a historical figure in the lore of Texas A&M in bringing Texas A&M to the SEC and he was indispensable to that happening," he said. "We've become personal friends along the way. We're both early risers and I can't tell you how many 7:15 phone calls we've had and when he called me, I just told me that I was unhappy about it, but I respect him and at least we'll be together for the next six months."




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