HOOVER, Ala. - SEC commissioner Mike Slive delivered his annual "brag bag," Wednesday afternoon to open another SEC Football Media Days. But after extolling the conference's success in the previous year - including a national championship or runner-up finish in 11 of 20 sponsored sports - he spent a significant time talking about compliance.
Specifically, those pesky secondary violations.
An increasingly hot topic this offseason in large part because of new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, secondary violations made an appearance during Slive's opening comments.
A key aspect of our review of secondaries is to determine if there's a pattern beginning to emerge at an institution, within a sport or around a particular individual, be it coach, administrator or prospect. When trends are detected, the penalties and corrective actions become more severe.
Mike Slive, SEC commissioner
While acknowledging that secondary violations are a fact of life when dealing with the NCAA's sizable rules manual, Slive went on to say that not all secondary violations will be treated the same by the SEC office.
"There are other secondary violations which are more serious, especially in the area of recruiting," Slive said. "A key aspect of our review of secondaries is to determine if there's a pattern beginning to emerge at an institution, within a sport or around a particular individual, be it coach, administrator or prospect. When trends are detected, the penalties and corrective actions become more severe."
In fact, Slive told reporters he's already doled out some additional penalties to conference schools as a result of secondary violations.
Those measures include stripping an entire coaching staff from making recruiting calls for "an extended period of time" and limiting coaches from all off-campus recruiting activities. Slive also said an institution has been prevented from any recruiting contact with prospects for an extended period of time and teams have also lost practice opportunities.
"The way we had gotten our point across was by doing the kinds of things that I indicated earlier," Slive said. "Those things that I indicated earlier, we have done. Those were not hypotheticals."
Asked for more details on those punishments, Slive simply said, "They've been done."
It is unclear whether Tennessee received any of the additional sanctions from the SEC, however, since members of Tennessee's compliance staff could not be reached Wednesday afternoon through spokeswoman Tiffany Carpenter.
Tennessee has reported six secondary violations involving the football program since Kiffin took over in December, many of which made headlines around the country.
"We've had some secondary violations, but I don't believe it's been an inordinate amount," Kiffin told the News Sentinel last month. "They aren't deliberate, but unfortunately they happen."
Those secondary violations, combined with some verbal jabs between Kiffin and other league coaches, became a focal point during the SEC's spring meetings in Destin, Fla.
"I was concerned until we left Destin, but I'm comfortable that they understand now," Slive said. "And I thought that it was appropriate that I shared my thinking with all of you."
And while controversy - whether over coaches' comments or secondary violations - creates coverage, Slive said it's not always a good thing for the SEC.
"It's not a selling point, but people are interested in what our coaches, and what everybody does. The issue for me is that we don't wound ourselves," he said. "The only conference in my view that can stop the SEC from being successful is the Southeastern Conference. That's what I meant today when I said that we can't afford to wound ourselves. We've got to continue to take care of business, and do the right thing, and we'll be fine."
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.