DESTIN, Fla. — Divisional play in Southeastern Conference men’s basketball has gone the way of the four corners stall and short shorts.
SEC presidents and chancellors voted Friday at their annual Spring Meeting to eliminate divisional play starting with the 2011-12 season and change the way the SEC men’s tournament is seeded.
For the 2012 tournament — which will be played at New Orleans Arena — teams will be seeded 1 through 12. The teams with the four best conference records will receive first-round byes.
Divisional play came into being in 1992, when the SEC expanded from 10 to 12 teams with the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina. The conference schedule was also trimmed that year from 18 to 16 games, with each team playing the other five schools in their division twice and the six teams from the opposite division once.
In the SEC tournament, the top two teams from each division received first-round byes. That often resulted in a team from one division with a better record than the top two from the opposite division being forced to play an extra game.
Because schedules for the 2011-12 season are already set, teams will play a 16-game schedule as they have in the past as if divisions were still in place.
A task force of four coaches and four athletic directors — including LSU AD Joe Alleva — is charged with coming up with a new scheduling format by December that will be put in place for the 2012-13 season.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said the new scheduling format will be for either 16 or 18 games — 18 being the number of games SEC teams played before expansion.
A 22-game conference schedule — in which every SEC team would play every other team home-and-home — was briefly discussed and rejected, Slive said.
“I prefer 18 games,” Slive said. “It helps your scheduling, and it’s good for fans. It’s good to have conference games that are part of a rivalry. But on the other hand, it’s not something that I could mandate.”
$220 million to be split
Once again, the SEC’s member schools will share in a record payout.
As is customary on the last day of the Spring Meeting, SEC officials revealed the revenue distribution figures for the year.
This year, SEC schools will divide $220 million, which comes to $18.3 million per school.
The figure is a 5.3-percent increase from $209 million in 2010 and is up a staggering $87.5 million from 2009, which was the last year before the SEC’s 15-year, $2 billion TV deal with CBS and ESPN went into effect.
The breakdown on revenue sharing is as follows:
Football television contract: $113 million
Bowls: $31.3 million
Basketball TV contract: $31.1 million
NCAA championships: $24.3 million
SEC football championship game: $15.3 million
SEC men’s basketball tournament: $5 million
The $220 million does not include $14.2 million previously retained by the schools that participated in bowls last season or $780,000 from the NCAA for academic enhancement.
SEC revenue sharing has increased every year since 1990.
Let cowbells ring!
SEC executives voted to keep the rule in place that allows Mississippi State fans to continue to ring their cowbells at games, but did slap the school with fines for two violations last season.
The rule limits ringing to dead-ball situations and time outs.
Slive said a review of last season found State fans violated the rule in their first two games. That resulted in a $5,000 fine for the first offense and a $25,000 fine for the second.
Each successive violation will cost Mississippi State $50,000, although Slive said Bulldogs fans seemed to get the hang of the rule as the season progressed a year ago.