When Kentucky coach John Calipari counted former Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive as one of his closest friends and said he was largely responsible for his hiring at Kentucky in 2009.
Very sad news: Former SEC commissioner Mike Slive passed away today in Birmingham.
Slive served as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference from 2002 until his retirement in 2015. He was named to the post in 2002.
Determined to clean up the league's reputation, Slive enlisted school presidents and athletic directors to hold coaches more accountable.
"I'm so saddened to learn that Mike Slive, who was both a personal friend and mentor, has passed", UF AD Scott Stricklin wrote on his Twitter account.
Slive survived prostate cancer in the late 1990s and founded the Mike Slive Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research after he retired, raising awarness and funding for the disease.
"I was blessed to come into this league the same time Mike Slive became our commissioner". Mike has always been a supporter of everyone involved in college athletics and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve alongside him for a number of years. Nine schools either were under NCAA investigation or on probation.
"Mike Slive literally changed the world through his life".
"He was a friend before we worked together", he said. He was a friend when we were colleagues.
During Slive's 13-year tenure as SEC commissioner, the league won a record seven consecutive Bowl Championship Series titles, beginning with the 2006 Florida Gators, and expanded from 12 to 14 teams, adding Texas A&M and Missouri.
When Slive was hired to replace retiring Roy Kramer, no SEC school had ever hired an African-American football coach. We will miss him for his work and especially for his compassion. Following 12-0 Auburn's exclusion from the BCS Championship in 2004, Slive began campaigning for a four-team playoff in college football.
Slive is survived by his wife, Liz; daughter Anna, son-in-law Judd Harwood; and granddaughter, Abigail. It was a campaign he carried on for years, and one that finally came to fruition with the creation of the College Football Playoff in 2014.
The conference released a statement following Slive's passing and praised his impact on the launching of the SEC Network, the conference's academic development, and the advancement of diversity.