University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto will serve a one-year term as president of the Southeastern Conference, presiding over meetings that make the rules for college athletics at the SEC’s 14 member schools.
He was elected by his fellow presidents at last week’s meeting in Destin, Fla. The meeting made headlines because the SEC allowed its member schools to decide if they want to serve alcohol at games. Many schools, including UK, allow alcohol in select areas, but the new rule opens the potential for stadium-wide access.
The SEC, whose operations are run by Commissioner Greg Sankey, has been a powerhouse conference due mostly to the strength of its member football and basketball teams, and helps negotiate the millions of dollars in sponsorships and television rights to member games. The SEC is one of three dozen Division 1 college conferences that report to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Because UK makes so much money off football and basketball, it is one of the few schools in the SEC that does not use general fund money for support. Until Capilouto’s arrival in 2011, the Athletics Department donated relatively little back to UK, but in 2013, Capilouto and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart worked out a deal for athletics revenue to pay $65 million of the $100 million Jacobs Science Building. UK Athletics’ 2018-2019 budget is about $142 million.
Capilouto was part of the search committee that chose Sankey. The conference includes UK, the University of Arkansas, Auburn University, the University of Alabama, University of Florida, University of Georgia, Louisiana State University, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, University of Missouri, University of South Carolina, University of Tennessee, Texas A&M University and Vanderbilt University.
The SEC is one of the founding members of the Bowl Championship Series for football, which has brought millions more to member schools because of television rights.
The SEC is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., which is Capilouto’s home town.