SEC commissioner speaks out about minor violations

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HOOVER, Ala. – Although he opened his comments at Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference Media Days by noting this time period may one day be known as the league’s “Golden Age,” commissioner Mike Slive took a stand against a seemingly developing trend.

Slive said the conference will not tolerate the flippant attitude toward secondary NCAA violations that some SEC coaching staffs have been accusing of having. Most of these minor infractions are mistakes, and of little concern to the league office, but Slive said intentional rule-breaking related to recruiting is another matter.

“We understand the perception that we’ve read about that a coach may make a risk-reward analysis with regard to secondary violations, especially in recruiting,” Slive said. “In doing this, a coach would decide to take the risk of committing a violation because of the perceived reward of increased leverage with a prospect makes the risk seem worthwhile.”

Two such recruiting instances have occurred this offseason at Tennessee. First-year coach Lane Kiffin intentionally broke a rule when he mentioned star running back recruit Bryce Brown – who later signed with the Volunteers – by name in a radio interview before Brown picked a school and signed his letter of intent.

In a similar incident, Kiffin’s Twitter page announced when LaGrange defensive lineman J.C. Copeland committed to Tennessee. Again, Kiffin is not allowed to comment on high school recruits until their letters of intent are signed.

Slive said the SEC will review such infractions and determine whether they are isolated incidents, or whether a pattern is developing, before meting out punishment.

“A key aspect of our review of ‘secondarys’ is to determine if there’s a pattern beginning to emerge at an institution, within a sport or around a particular individual, be it coach, administrator or prospect,” Slive said. “When trends are detected, the penalties and corrective actions become more severe.”

The commissioner went on to describe punishments the league has handed out in the past for secondary violations, including:

• An entire coaching staff was not allowed to make phone calls to recruits for an extended period of time.

• Individual coaches have been barred from off-campus recruiting activities.

• Schools have been prevented from having any contact with individual recruits for a period of time.

• Teams have had practice opportunities taken away.

“Any time they commit a secondary violation, they place themselves, their program and the institution and the prospect at risk,” Slive said. “The risk may be lost recruiting opportunities, lost ability to interact with prospects and additional scrutiny for themselves and their program.”


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