BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey has agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in his post through at least 2023, the Conference announced on Thursday.
Sankey's contract extension continues a role he began on June 1, 2015 when he became the eighth Commissioner of the SEC.
"Greg Sankey has led the SEC through an important period of growth and change, advancing our conference's national standing while ensuring superior experiences for our student-athletes," said Dr. Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina and current President of the SEC. "We look forward to working with him to achieve even greater success for the SEC at this important time in college athletics."
Based upon the conference-wide success and growth, the SEC was the only college conference named a finalist for the Sports Business Journal's League of the Year Award in 2017-18, a nomination shared with the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), Ladies' Professional Golf Association (LPGA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).
"I am privileged to serve the universities and advance the academic and athletics pursuits of the student-athletes of the Southeastern Conference," said Sankey. "We are in the midst of a time of change for college athletics and I look forward to working with campus leaders to chart a course that sustains the incredible success of our Conference and provides remarkable support for our student-athletes for generations to come."
Now in his fourth year at the helm of the SEC, Sankey has focused on advocacy for the student-athlete, creating a framework to provide young people in the Conference with new leadership opportunities and resources to succeed at the highest levels of academic achievement and competitive success.
New student-athlete focused initiatives under Sankey's leadership include the creation of a new position in the SEC Office for a Director of Student-Athlete Engagement; the introduction of Student-Athlete Leadership Councils for Football, Men's and Women's Basketball; the creation of a Student-Athlete Career Tour during SEC Football Championship Week in Atlanta; increased annual funding for the H. Boyd McWhorter Post-Graduate Scholarship, and the introduction of the SEC Graduate Patch, a logo worn by SEC student-athletes who have earned their undergraduate degree and are continuing their participation in intercollegiate athletics.
Sankey has moved to address issues critical to college athletics, with an emphasis on integrity, ethics and sportsmanship. He appointed a Working Group on Student-Athlete Conduct to develop recommendations for updated Conference policies governing conduct expectations for student-athletes. As a result, the SEC adopted a serious misconduct policy governing transfers that has served as a model for similar policies subsequently adopted by other conferences and institutions and later expanded the policy to include all incoming prospective student-athletes.
Sankey prioritized the enhancement of SEC championship events with the goal of providing student-athletes with life-long memories and exceptional experiences for fans, which has included a long-term agreement with Atlanta's new Mercedes Benz Stadium to host the SEC Football Championship Game; an agreement with the City of Hoover, AL, to continue as home of the SEC Baseball Tournament after the city committed to $70 million of facility and surrounding improvements; and an agreement with Greenville, SC, to become a multi-year home for the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament.
Sankey has focused resources on the development of Conference officiating with a series of measures blending technology with effective leadership. In addition to hiring new coordinators of officials in the sports of men's basketball, women's basketball and softball, other measures include working with the NCAA to gain approval for collaborative instant replay processes in the sports of football, men's basketball and baseball, creating officiating consortiums with other conferences in men's and women's basketball, and the hiring of former NBA official Bob Delaney to serve as Special Advisor for Officiating Development and Performance.
Another priority under Sankey's leadership has been to grow exposure for the Conference and promote success stories of the SEC which resulted in a comprehensive branding campaign titled "It Just Means More." He also engineered the move of SEC Football Media Days to a new market for the first time since 1984, taking the signature event to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta while adding a fan event in Centennial Olympic Park to expand the kickoff week to five days of activities.
His collaboration with the SEC Network has helped to create new exposure opportunities for the SEC, including unique behind-the-scenes programming, expanding live championship coverage for Olympic Sports, the addition of a new lifestyle program focused on Southern food and culture titled "True South," a new special hosted by Paul Finebaum titled "SEC Homecoming" featuring notable SEC alumni returning to their schools, and adding coverage of halftime band performances to the SEC Network's digital companion SEC Network+.
The SEC Network has now secured long-term distribution agreements with every major cable provider in the United States, it has distribution agreements with every nationwide multi-channel subscription streaming service currently in the marketplace and is available internationally to over 140 countries.
On March 12, 2015, the Presidents and Chancellors of the SEC announced Sankey would succeed Mike Slive as Commissioner of the SEC.
Sankey, 54, first joined the SEC staff in 2002 as Associate Commissioner for Governance, Enforcement and Compliance and later added supervision of the league's championships staff to his responsibilities. He was elevated to Executive Associate Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer for the league office in 2012, becoming responsible for the day-to-day operation of the SEC Office.
Sankey has been active within the NCAA committee structure, including his current service on the Enforcement/Infractions Working Group created to address recommendations from the independent Commission on College Basketball. He has also served on the Division I Management Council, Division I Legislative Council, Committee on Academic Performance and the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
Before moving to the SEC, Sankey served as Commissioner of the Southland Conference for nearly seven years. He joined the Southland Conference staff in 1992 where he served as both assistant and associate commissioner before he was named its Commissioner in 1996 at the age of 31.
A native of Auburn, NY, Sankey earned his master's degree from Syracuse University and his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland. Sankey and his wife, Cathy, reside in Birmingham, AL, and have two adult daughters, Hannah and Moriah.