STARKVILLE — Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum has been elected vice president of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) by his fellow presidents/chancellors. The action was taken Friday at the SEC’s summer meeting in Destin, Florida.
Keenum will serve a term of one year in the post, succeeding the retiring University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart. Gearhart is retiring from the helm at Arkansas in July. Election to the office puts Keenum in the line of succession to lead the SEC as president in 2016.
In his capacity as vice president, Keenum will serve as liaison to SEC-U, the conference’s academic arm, where he will work to promote the academic achievements of students, faculty and staff members throughout the 14-member conference.
“I look forward to helping tell the story of the academic successes of so many of our students, the talents of our faculty, and the outstanding research under way at the universities in our great conference,” Keenum said.
Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos will continue to serve as president of the SEC. Joseph L. Fink, III, of the University of Kentucky will continue to serve as secretary-treasurer of the conference.
Keenum, who since 2009 has served as MSU’s 19th president, will continue to serve on the SEC’s seven-member executive committee. The panel is empowered under conference by-laws to hear and decide appeals of disciplinary/enforcement matters, fill conference vacancies, and approve or ratify conference contracts or agreements. The committee also approves the conference’s operating budget and has oversight of fiscal affairs.
“I am honored to be chosen to serve in a leadership position and to help direct policy in the most prestigious athletic conference in the nation,” said Keenum. “I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the conference during this exciting time in the history of the SEC.”
Earlier this year, Keenum was appointed as the SEC’s representative to the College Football Playoff’s (CFP) Board of Managers. The CFP Board of Managers is the governing board of CFP Administration, LLC, the company that manages the administrative operations of the College Football Playoff system.
Keenum also will remain on the SEC’s Content Committee. It is the league’s oversight committee in the development of the SEC Network–a partnership with ESPN that provides a television network and accompanying digital platform to exclusively broadcast SEC programming. The network debuted in August 2014 and now is seen in 91 million homes across the nation.
The last MSU chief executive to serve as the SEC’s president was the late MSU President Donald Zacharias in 1989.