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Former SEC commissioner Mike Slive has passed away

Former SEC commissioner Mike Silve has passed away, the SEC announced on Wednesday. He was 77.

A New York state lawyer by way of the Ivy League, Slive was the first member of his family to graduate college. He served as the founding commissioner of the Great Midwest Conference and Conference USA before ascending to the SEC commissionership in 2002, where he would become one of the most influential members in college sports history.

Though Roy Kramer was the commissioner who brought the SEC into its modern era by adding South Carolina and Arkansas, creating the SEC title game and ushering in the BCS, Slive brought the league into its post-modern era by overseeing the launch of the SEC Network, expanding with Missouri and Texas A&M, and spearheading the creation of the College Football Playoff.

Slive, along with ACC commissioner John Swofford, famously pitched his peers on creating the first college football playoff in the spring of 2008, but was quickly shot down. "I remember having a sour look on my face," Slive told USA Today. "Because that's how I felt."

It took an all-SEC BCS title game, between Alabama and LSU to close the 2011 season, to push the rest of the then-BCS commissioners to creating the College Football Playoff. Ironically, another all-SEC title game -- Alabama's double overtime defeat of Georgia -- was the final CFP title game of Slive's lifetime.

It was under Slive's watch that the SEC morphed from a competitive, passionate conference to the behemoth that rules college football today. He is the only commissioner in the sport's history to see his league win seven straight national titles, claimed by four separate members.

In 2011-12, the SEC came this close to becoming the first league since the Pac-8 in 1974-75 to win the football, basketball and baseball national champions in the same academic year, when Alabama won the football crown over LSU, Kentucky took home the basketball title and South Carolina fell to Arizona in the College World Series finals.

Slive held a number of leadership roles in college sports at large, at separate times serving as the president of the Collegiate Commissioners Association, the coordinator of the BCS and the chairman of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee.

A prostate cancer survivor, he also created the Mike Slive Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research to generate funding and awareness for the disease's eradication.

Most of all, Slive was remembered as a kind and gentle man who was liked and respected by all who knew him.

He is survived by his wife, Liz, of 49 years, his daughter Anna, son-in-law Judd Harwood, and granddaughter Abigail.