Mike Slive, the former Southeastern Conference commissioner who guided the league through a period of unprecedented success and prosperity, died Wednesday. He was 77.
The Southeastern Conference said Slive died in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lived with his wife of 49 years, Liz. The conference didn't provide the cause of death.
Slive retired in 2015 after 13 years as commissioner. He was battling prostate cancer at the time he stepped down.
Slive replaced Roy Kramer as SEC commissioner in 2002, coming from Conference USA to help clean up an SEC that was beset by NCAA compliance issues. Soon after the SEC became the most powerful conference in college football, winning seven straight national championships and landing television contracts worth billions.
"He was a friend before he was the boss, he was a friend while he was the boss, he was a friend after," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who replaced Slive, told the SEC Network.
Slive played a pivotal role in the creation of the College Football Playoff, expanded the SEC from 12 to 14 schools with the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M in 2012 and was the driving force behind the launch of the SEC Network in 2014. He also played a major part in ushering in a new governance model for the NCAA in which the SEC and the other four most powerful and wealthy conferences were given autonomy to create and pass legislation.
Slive was born in Utica, New York, the son of a butcher. He became an attorney and founded a law firm that assisted schools with NCAA issues for before starting a long career in college sports. He was the founding commissioner of both the Great Midwest Conference and C-USA.