BIRMINGHAM – Mike Slive crossed 22nd street with a smile on his face. The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is across from his office in the Southeastern Conference’s building located in Alabama’s largest city.The league’s commissioner spoke to media publicly for the first time since the 2014 SEC Media Days on Monday. As his retirement approaches – July 31 –Slive has much to be happy about.“Today is as good as I’ve felt in a long time,” Slive said.Slive dealt with a reoccurrence of prostate cancer last fall. Monday, he announced he has finished chemotherapy treatment.While Slive plans for a healthy retirement, his heir, Greg Sankey, also answered questions for an hour inside the hall of fame.Sankey plans to wait for three more months before fully taking the reins from Slive.“I’ve been intentional careful, because Mike is still the commissioner,” Sankey said. “There will be a time to communicate (my plan) in the future.”Sankey becomes the face of the SEC at a time when the conference’s nationally brand has never been stronger. Slive bragged about the success of the SEC Network. In its first year of existence, the station became the most successful launch in the history of cable television. Today, it reaches nearly 100 million people across the country.“I’m not going to talk about finances, but so far it’s been very, very successful,” Slive said.Slive wouldn’t comment on the financial gains, but moves around the league provide plenty of evidence within the last year of the money spread across the 14 schools.Both schools in Mississippi haven’t been shy in spending. Mississippi State and Ole Miss handed their football coaches raises. Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze’s salaries both earn more than $4 million a year.The two schools also extended their women’s basketball coaches. MSU hired Ben Howland and agreed to pay him $2 million a year. He was the first of a handful of big-name hires made by SEC basketball programs including Rick Barnes (Tennessee) and Avery Johnson (Alabama).The movement began last year with the addition of Bruce Pearl at Auburn.“I was delighted about the new coaching hires,” Slive said.The commissioner spoke to the SEC’s schools last year about boosting their prowess in basketball. It started with legislating scheduling approval for each school to ensure higher RPIs.This offseason, schools opened their checkbooks to improve the league with better coaching.“I didn’t say you guys ought to spend more money in basketball,” Slive said. “What I said was by not being successful and being the NCAA Tournament, they were losing a lot of revenue.”With the focus on basketball, discussion regarding the eligibility of freshmen and “one-and-done” players surfaced Monday.The idea of restricting freshmen eligibility has gained momentum within the last couple of months. Slive grinned as he read from his speech from the 2011 SEC Media Days when he first introduced the idea.“We have developed an agenda that was intended to stimulate a national discussion, an agenda for change if you will,” Slive read from his speech four years ago. “We hope that we will see significant action in the foreseeable future.”Slive’s broke down his four-year-old plan into three stages.First, he wants to raise the GPA of academically eligible freshmen from 2.0 to 2.5 and require 16 credit-hour core courses. That would equate to a 2.3 GPA standard.Then, he would like to launch a similar system to incoming freshman, starting the program in high school.“For freshman who reached the appropriate GPA in the core courses, they could compete as freshman,” said Slive of the third part of his plan. “But if they did not, they couldn’t compete, but they could get aid. They could practice and they could be part of the program.”Both Slive and Sankey aired on the side of caution when speaking on the topic of player compensation due to on-going national legal battles. A large portion of the question-and-answer session revolved around cost of tuition, which will be addressed with the help of the Power 5 conference’s autonomy within the NCAA.Slive and Sankey pointed to the student-athletes’ medical costs and access to meals as areas that are already being provided and that will be improved upon in the future.It’s an area drawing national attention that will consume much of Sankey’s time during his introduction as SEC Commissioner. It’s one Slive has already spent countless hours analyzing and will continue to do in his final months at the helm of the SEC.“There’s a list of things we’re willing to do, but it’s committed to education,” Slive said. “It’s not pay for play.”Contact Michael Bonner at [email protected] Follow @MikeBBonner on Twitter.