Mike Slive, the former Southeastern Conference commissioner who guided the league to unprecedented success and prosperity, died Wednesday. He was 77.

The Southeastern Conference said Slive died in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lived with his wife of 49 years, Liz. The conference didn't provide the cause of death.

Slive retired in 2015 after 13 years as commissioner. He was battling prostate cancer at the time he stepped down.

Slive replaced Roy Kramer as SEC commissioner in 2002, coming from Conference USA to help clean up an SEC that was beset by NCAA compliance issues. Soon after the SEC became the most powerful conference in college football, winning seven straight national championships and landing television contracts worth billions.

"He was a friend before he was the boss, he was a friend while he was the boss, he was a friend after," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who replaced Slive, told the SEC Network.

The SEC's success was not limited to football under Slive. Overall, the conference won 81 national championships in 17 sports during his tenure.

The SEC expanded from 12 to 14 schools in 2012 under Slive. He was the driving force behind the launch of the SEC Network in 2014. He also played a major part in ushering in a new governance model for the NCAA in which the SEC and the other four power conferences were given autonomy to create and pass legislation.

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