SEC considering expanding serious misconduct polcy to encompass high school signees

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

SEC considering expanding serious misconduct polcy to encompass high school signees

The Jonathan Taylor rule may soon have a Jeffery Simmons amendment.

SEC leadership will discuss and likely vote at the conclusion of the league's Spring Meetings this week on a proposal to expand the league's landmark serious misconduct policy to encompass recruits and high school signees.

The proposal is among 20 legislative proposals being discussed this week and came from the SEC's executive committee via the league's student-athlete working group, which was formed years ago by commissioner Greg Sankey.

The SEC first enacted the serious misconduct policy, which prohibits athletes who've been convicted, pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of sexual violence or faced discipline at previous colleges for such interpersonal violence to transfer to a conference school, on June 1, 2015 and expanded it in 2016, to include the expectation of "due diligence" into reviewing a prospective transfer's background.

At the conclusion of SEC Spring Meetings in 2016, Sankey anticipated conversations to continue as to whether the policy should expand to encompass incoming players as the league addressed concerns with the domestic violence incident involving Simmons, a then-Mississippi State signee, who was suspended for the 2016 season opener after a video showed him punching a woman.

"At that time I think I was very open (in the press conference that) there was a lot of dialogue about should we be examining incoming freshmen as well under this rule," Sankey said. "A close vote, but a decision not to do so, not to recommend that forward. We're now three years of experience with our policy and the level of scrutiny I describe as visibility, volume and velocity around intercollegiate athletics means you've got to be attentive continuously. I don't think that transfer changes is a destination. (The) working group got back together, looked at the issues: Can we access information? And felt it as appropriate to introduce the proposal.

"I don't know that we had unanimous votes. My sense is that people are in support of recognizing the need to expect certain positive behaviors out of young people if they're going to have the privilege of competing in intercollegiate athletics."

The proposed amendment specifies that incidents of serous misconduct involving currently enrolled athletes remains at the discretion of the institution, so Simmons or any other SEC athlete won't be retroactively penalized should the SEC approve the proposal this week.

While the Big XII, Pac-12 and Indiana University implemented similar legislation after the SEC, the Big XII and Indiana's policies already encompass incoming signees as well.

After the SEC did not have a proposal to expand the policy during last year's Spring Meetings, Sankey said during last year's SEC Media Days the conference needed to "re-engage" its review of the policy.

"Our membership has done exactly what I identified, and that is let's go back and take a look and see if there are elements around student-athlete conduct that should be subject to conference policy," Sankey said. "We'll see where that ends this week. ... I think we're making progress. I think we're discussing the right issues. We'll see what our membership thinks."

Also known as the "Jonathan Taylor rule," the SEC's serious misconduct policy came to be after the former defensive tackle transferred to Alabama despite outstanding charges for domestic violence from his time at Georgia. Taylor was later dismissed from Alabama following an accusation of domestic violence, which was later recanted, and he transferred to Southeastern Louisiana.

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

from Auburn Sports Impact

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