HOOVER, Ala. — Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen sidestepped controversy when asked about incoming 5-star recruit Jeffery Simmons on Tuesday morning, saying he was not the one who green lit the university’s decision to allow Simmons to play football this season.
Simmons, an elite defensive end from Noxubee County High (Macon, Miss.) was filmed beating a woman earlier this year. The university reviewed the situation and eventually ruled that — despite the widely-viewed assault — Simmons would be eligible to enroll and play football for the Bulldogs this fall (he will be suspended for the opening game).
Mullen was apparently not a vital part of the decision-making process.
“I wasn’t involved as much,” Mullen said at SEC Media Days. “It was a university decision. But I was just thrilled that we’re having Jeffery as part of our family coming in. I take a lot of pride as a coach on developing young men to be champions, not just on the field, but off the field in every part of their life … and that’s not an easy process.”
Mullen was one of the final Mississippi State representatives to comment publicly on the matter.
“As we looked at the details … beyond just the part of the video in the media, we felt he deserved a chance in life,” Mullen told ESPN.com’s Chris Low in June.
The decision was controversial, and ultimately led to questions at Tuesday’s SEC Media Days.
“Anytime a situation like that occurs, you have to have a great invest into what happened, getting as many details from as many people as you possibly can to make good decisions,” Mullen said. “You want to make sure that everybody in the university is involved. It’s not a football decision. It’s a university decision that we’re all looking at making.”
“In this situation, our university did a very, very thorough investigation into everything that happened in the situation there, and came up with a conclusion that Jeffery deserved the opportunity to be part of our family, and now we can move forward in helping educate and develop a young man to become successful in his life.”
Mullen was then asked if he will be responsible if Simmons were to hypothetically assault a Mississippi State student on campus.
“We’re all responsible if that happens,” Mullen said.