Does the SEC need a Jeffrey Simmons rule?
After two and a half mostly uneventful days, the SEC's spring meetings broke open yesterday afternoon when Mississippi State decided to enroll Jeffrey Simmons. In a contentious news conference, Athletic director Scott Stricklin had to answer some very tough questions about the one-game suspension handed to Simmons, a five-star defensive end who is shown on video repeatedly punching a woman.
The news didn't occur in a vacuum. The SEC has spent several days discussing ways to bolster its restrictions on accepting players with troubling backgrounds. But as I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times, that only applies to transfers - not high school recruits like Simmons.
The lack of a policy had a role in Mississippi State's decision; Stricklin said the thought of another program picking up Simmons "crosses your mind" when choosing to allow him to join the football team.
Commissioner Greg Sankey has cited two main reasons why the SEC isn't pursuing a blanket policy on high school recruits involved with such crimes.
One is logistical: Different states have different laws on whether they seal juveniles' criminal histories. That means a league rule could block one recruit from joining but not block a different player from a different state - even if they were both accused or convicted of the same crime.
The other is philosophical: Young people sometimes do dumb things; should one mistake ruin his college aspirations?
Both issues are valid. But that doesn't mean they can't be worked through.
So my question: How should the SEC (or NCAA) address this issue? What policy would address Sankey's two points but still stop future Simmons incidents from occurring?