SEC meetings notebook: Decision on hoops divisions will wait

DESTIN, Fla. – Southeastern Conference men’s basketball coaches tossed around ideas Tuesday about how to seed the league’s tournament and whether to ditch the two-division format.


Scrapping the current East and West Divisions won’t be decided this week, commissioner Mike Slive said Tuesday, but the seeding could.

"I think that’s something that we should take a hard look at," Slive said.

The athletic directors will meet with the coaches this afternoon.

Georgia coach Mark Fox said before the coaches met Tuesday that he thought "they’ll be a lot of momentum for change," and that opinion didn’t change afterwards.

"What that change is, I don’t know," Fox said. "There’s a lot of options on the table."

The tournament seeding format – which currently gives byes for the top-two finishers in each division – could change for the 2012 tournament if there is enough backing, but the decision about divisions will wait.

Football divisions determine the teams that play in the league title games.

"There’s no need to make a decision about how we do it in the future here," Slive said. "What we wanted to get done here is the beginning of some significant dialogue. … In basketball, almost all the conferences don’t have divisions, so we ought to be asking ourselves the question, is this what we want? Rather than just going blankly on, should we take a look and see if we like it?"

The conference schedule is already set for next season, but future scheduling could include 18 conference games instead of 16, Slive said. Athletic directors could discuss that in meetings in August or December.

Coaches were split 6-6 last year about the seeding.

"We’ve got some different coaches in there," Fox said.

Florida coach Billy Donovan even suggested seeding the tournament by RPI ranking.

"I support change," Fox said. "I do feel like we have to do the best thing for the league to position ourselves the best way we can for postseason tournaments, for television. We have to evolve as the game changes and the culture changes."

Coaches remember good in former colleagues

Just two years ago, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt joined Jim Tressel and other coaches on a nine-day goodwill mission to Iraq and other countries in the Middle East.

Nutt remembered that trip Tuesday, a day after Tressel was forced to resign at Ohio State.

"I think he’s one of the finest men I know," Nutt said. "I know at his core what he’s about."

Florida’s Donovan has kept in touch with another coach who lost his job this year, Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, who was fired in March after his own NCAA troubles.

"I think he’s trying to move on it from it," Donovan said. "A lot of times when things happen, whether it’s Bruce Pearl or Jim Tressel, people want to push back and stay away. … It’s unfortunate what happened. I think that’s also part of life. His mindset is to try to move forward."

Academic matters

Asked if he expected the rest of Georgia’s signees to qualify academically, football coach Mark Richt said "Yeah, they’re all in the fight." Defensive tackle Chris Mayes from Griffin is heading to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

Fox said that he didn’t think players in his five-member signing class have gotten word yet from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

"It’s probably too early," he said. "I’m not overly concerned with anybody. I think everybody should be in pretty good shape."

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