DESTIN, Fla. — SEC commissioner Greg Sankey watched the Jeffrey Simmons video “several weeks ago,” but if he had any thoughts on it, and whether Mississippi State erred in admitting the player, the commissioner didn’t say.
What was evident, however, was Sankey not being very crazy about the whole situation, or Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin’s comments that the SEC was “comfortable” with its decision.
Stricklin, speaking with reporters in Destin on Thursday, said MSU had consulted with the SEC office and “they were comfortable with the decision we were making.”
That did not reflect Sankey’s view, at least on Friday.
“It’s interesting to hear that, and to read that, and to be asked that question, because I’m quite protective of that communication,” Sankey said. “I saw the word ‘comfortable.’ I would not express comfort with a situation like that. It is difficult. We are the conference wrestling with these issues, and obviously in a public way. And certainly no one in the commissioner’s office, in my office, would communicate comfort with that situation. Yet the reality is those institutional decisions are still left at that level.”
Stricklin said Thursday he’d had “ongoing communications” with the SEC office.
“From the day it happened, (the conversation was): I want to make you aware of this, have you seen this, and then we kept them informed as we learned more about the situation,” Stricklin said.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen had left Destin by the time the decision was announced. He told ESPN’s Chris Low on that “as we looked at the details … beyond just the part of the video in the media, we felt he deserved a chance in life.”
Sankey reiterated that the conference could continue “dialogue” on whether it should expand its rule to apply to a case like Simmons. But in the meantime, he said he didn’t have the power to stop it.
“It is an institutional decision,” “Sankey said. “The notion of comfort with this situation is not a characterization I would provide. Awareness and comfort are two different things. It is a difficult circumstance. …
“That young man will be under more scrutiny than any other person on that campus,” Sankey added later. “The hope certainly is he fulfills the expectations now placed upon him.”