With Tumult All Around Us, We Remember Mike Slive

Tony Barnhart

When Mike Slive retired as the ultra-successful commissioner of the Southeastern Conference in 2015 his successor, Greg Sankey, presented him with a framed copy of Rudyard Kipling’s immortal poem “If.”

“If you can keep your head when all about you…

“Are losing theirs and blaming you…

“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…

“But make allowance for their doubting too…

Sankey, in fact, had two framed copies for the occasion. According to a Tweet he posted on Wednesday, he gave one copy to Mike and Liz Slive. The other he placed in the SEC office at Birmingham “where I would see it every day.”

“If you can dream—and not make dreams your master….

“If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim….

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster…..

“And treat those imposters just the same……

“Mike would read it during times of tumult,” Sankey said in the Tweet.

How appropriate that Commissioner Sankey would post that Tweet this week because college football –indeed the World—is going through quite a bit of tumult and uncertainty.

Our visit today is not going to be long. But eight days from today, May 16, will mark the second anniversary of Commissioner Slive’s death at the age of 77. He had been battling prostate cancer.

There is so much going on right now. We don’t even know if we’ll have a college football season and, if we do, what it will look like.

So I want to set aside a little time today to remember Commissioner Slive and his legacy.

Many of you know that he and his family created the Mike Slive Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research (mikeslivefoundation.org). The vision of the organization is “to fund research which eradicates prostate cancer as a major public health threat in our lifetime.”


The Foundation is now run by his daughter, Anna, and during the course of each year it hosts several major initiatives in order to raise funds for research.

On Father’s Day weekend the Foundation was scheduled to hold its annual “I’m With Mike” 5K run in Birmingham. That is not possible this year because of the coronavirus.


So the run will be replaced by a virtual run where entire families can register, receive “I’m With Mike” T-shirts, and run or walk or bike together on Father’s Day weekend. Those families can send photos that will be put together to celebrate the day. All proceeds will go to prostate cancer research.

More details can be found on the website listed above. Registration is $30 per person ($25 for prostate cancer survivors.

You can register at ImWithMike5K.com. In order to get your T-shirt on time register by May 26.

“Adapting to changing situations is something my father did beautifully well,” said Anna Slive. “He was a tremendous leader, especially during challenging times. I know he would be proud that we have found a way to still come together as a community and support prostate cancer and bring awareness to a cancer that affects one in nine men.”

So we’re taking a short break from the tumult today to remember Mike Slive and support the foundation he formed.

If he was here, with all of these problems, he’d tell us to go back and read Kipling again:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute…

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run….

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it….

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

We miss you Commish.


Tony Barnhart