FAYETTEVILLE — The Southeastern Conference is searching for a new commissioner after Mike Slive announced earlier this month he was retiring.

FAYETTEVILLE — The Southeastern Conference is searching for a new commissioner after Mike Slive announced earlier this month he was retiring.


Arkansas chancellor David Gearhart has been appointed as the chairman of the committee in charge of finding the next person to lead the conference.


Vanderbilt chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, who is the current chair of the SEC’s presidents and chancellors, announced Thursday he has selected a five-person committee to conduct the search. Gearhart was named the chairman.


"Finding the right person to carry on the leadership of the Southeastern Conference, an unquestioned leader in intercollegiate athletics, is a major undertaking as the position is vital to the continued positive transformation of the conference and intercollegiate athletics as a whole," Gearhart said in a statement. "I’m honored to have been selected by Chancellor Zeppos to lead this important committee."


Gearhart will be joined on the committee by Alabama president Dr. Judith Bonner, Kentucky president Dr. Eli Capilouto, Mississippi State president Dr. Mark Keenum, and Missouri chancellor Dr. R. Bowen Loftin. Zeppos said in an SEC news release the committee will work closely with athletic directors, faculty representatives, senior women administrators and student athletes in the search.


The committee plans to select the next commissioner "in a timely manner" prior to Slive’s retirement on July 31, 2015. Slive has served as commissioner for 13 years.


"The SEC has enjoyed an era of unprecedented success under Mike Slive and at the same time has been a leader in dramatic change in the landscape of college athletics under his direction," Zeppos said in the SEC’s news release. "It is critical to have an efficient transition of leadership in order to continue our success on the fields of play as well as to identify a staunch advocate for academic achievement, integrity and sportsmanship. Our objective is to seamlessly maintain our conference’s participation in shaping the future of intercollegiate athletics."


Gearhart is the second university leader to step into a chairman role that will be watched closely across college athletics over the next few months.


Athletic director Jeff Long is serving as the chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee. Long is part of the 13-member committee that will rank the top 25 teams in the country beginning next week and, ultimately, select the four teams that will participate in the first College Football Playoff later this year.