SEC Media Days: Secondary violations take center stage

HOOVER, Ala. — If some SEC coaches think secondary recruiting violations are risks worth taking, SEC commissioner Mike Slive wants them to rethink that stance.

Slive said he has stressed to the league’s coaches this summer that he is concerned about excessive secondary violations — and that they should be, too.

“We understand the perception ... that a coach may make a risk-reward analysis with regard to secondary violations, especially in recruiting,” Slive said Wednesday. “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.

“As we told our coaches earlier this week in our new coaches’ orientation program, any time — any time — they commit a secondary violation, they place themselves, their program and the prospect at risk. The risk may be lost recruiting opportunities, lost ability to interact with prospects and additional scrutiny for themselves and their program.”

Slive made his comments on the opening afternoon of the SEC’s annual “Media Days” preseason football event.

Secondary violations by new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin have gotten much media attention recently, but most SEC schools have reported multiple “secondaries” this year. Georgia reported eight, including four by the football program, in the past six months.

The NCAA defines secondary violations as isolated or inadvertent incidents that do not produce significant competitive advantages. Common examples include excessive phone calls or text messages to recruits. Schools typically self-report secondary violations and propose corrective action or, occasionally, modest penalties.

Slive said the league reviews each reported violation and “has the authority and the will” to stiffen penalties. He said it will do so when a pattern of violations emerges by a school or coach.

He declined, though, to comment on specific situations.

Slive cautioned that not all secondary violations are of equal weight. Among those reported to the conference office, he said: an athlete being “provided energy bars that exceeded the protein content limit” and a coach taking a visiting prospect across the street for a cup of coffee, straying just far enough to create “impermissible off-campus contact.” But others are “more serious,” Slive said.

Etc.

As new Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen took the podium to meet the media, he paused for a second to type a Twitter post: “I am on stage.” ... Mullen said he’ll double as Mississippi State’s special-teams coach. ... The last of four coaches on stage Wednesday was Kentucky’s Rich Brooks, following Petrino, Vanderbilt’s Bobby Johnson and Mullen. Brooks said it was “kind of appropriate” for him to go last, “because that’s where we’ll be picked every year anyway.” ... All four coaches here Wednesday said they voted for Florida’s Tim Tebow as the first-team quarterback on the All-SEC preseason team. So the mystery remains as to which of the league’s coaches didn’t vote for Tebow, who inexplicably wasn’t a unanimous pick. “I don’t know if y’all are going to find the culprit who didn’t vote [for Tebow],” Vanderbilt’s Johnson said. “Tell him it wasn’t me.” ... Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams on the Razorbacks: “It’ll surprise everyone else but us how well we’ll play together this year.” ... Georgia coach Mark Richt, quarterback Joe Cox and defensive tackle Jeff Owens will meet the media Thursday.