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SEC Commissioner Proposes Reforming NCAA Scholarships, Academics

SEC Commissioner proposes NCAA reforms at conference's media day.jpg

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive kicked off his conference's media day on Wednesday by proposing a number of reforms for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, all of which would ultimately benefit student-athletes. And he didn't just stop at colleges—high schools were well within his sights, too.

In no particular order, Slive proposed:

• An increase in the required GPA for initial eligibility, from 2.0 to 2.5. Any athlete who has a 2.0 GPA but falls short of the 2.5 standard would be allowed to practice with his or her team, but could not compete until their sophomore year.

• A progress bar in core classes that high school student-athletes must pass on a yearly basis to maintain their eligibility for college sports.

• Multiyear athletic scholarships. Currently, athletic scholarships must be renewed on a year-to-year basis, which sometimes comes as a surprise to student-athletes.

• Full-cost attendance athletic scholarships. Studies suggest that current athletic scholarships leave student-athletes paying $3,000 out of pocket each year. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany recently broached the subject of full-cost scholarships as well.

• The return of partially-qualifying athletes. These are student-athletes who don't qualify academically but can still practice with their teams. They can only compete once they straighten their grades out.

• Extending the six-year window for student-athletes to finish their degrees while under scholarship. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently spoke out in favor of a plan that would allow athletes extra time to obtain their scholarships. Duncan also said he'd be "more than open" to the idea of multiyear, guaranteed athletic scholarships.

Slive admitted that his proposals wouldn't suddenly cure college sports from some of the not-so-kosher happenings that have made headlines in recent months.

"It will have some impact. But you know, in all the years we've been doing this and raising standards, kids are competitors and tough and tenacious and they appear to rise to the occasion," Slive said, according to ESPN. "To me, the crux of the academic proposals is the high school satisfactory progress. We've just seen too many youngsters who don't wake up until they are juniors or seniors to realize they are talented."

"Now all of a sudden to be eligible they've got to pass all these core courses. That's where some of the problems came from. If you take the 16 core courses and you require a certain number to be passed every year then you force the young person to realize that if he wants to play in the first year he's got to start now."

Granted, proposing these reforms and actually adopting them for the conference are two entirely different beasts. There's no guarantee that any of these will become a rule in the conference, much less the NCAA as a whole.

Still, proposals like these only stand to benefit one group of people: the student-athletes. It's tough to find fault with that.

Photo: Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala. on July 20. (Dave Martin/AP)

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