SEC commissioner to form group to help minimize conduct issues

ByAlex Scarborough ESPN logo
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

HOOVER, Ala. -- SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the league is in the process of forming a "working group" to study how to best minimize conduct issues among athletes.

The move comes in light of several notable arrests in college football this offseason, including DeAndre Johnson and Dalvin Cook at Florida State, Jonathan Taylor at Alabama and Laremy Tunsil at Ole Miss.

"Consistent with my comments related to a continuing conversation on conduct issues, we will appoint a working group on conduct expectations that will engage in reviewing our student-athlete conduct issues and policies," Sankey said. "Particularly, they will invest time to consider existing campus policies, national requirements and best practices in order to identify appropriate campus and conference expectations.

"The idea behind a working group is to foster a conversation about how we might encounter the concern on conduct in a more global way. There's a balance between the time demands placed on young people, the free time that can create problems, and their ability to mature and make their own decisions. And I think that's part of why it's healthy for us to have the exact conversation I anticipate occurring over the next 12 to 24 months."

Sankey stopped short of specifics on who will form the group or how it will operate.

Although he was quick to say that he hadn't defined what amount of responsibility coaches bear in the conduct of their players, he did admit that, "Clearly, coaches have a responsibility for young people on their roster."

Sankey was wary of the working group being seen as a silver bullet to off-the-field trouble, however.

"No prediction is attached to the outcome," he said.

In May, the SEC passed legislation that banned its member institutions from accepting transfer students with "serious misconduct" in their past.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he thought the increased emphasis on domestic violence spearheaded the move.

"Of course, I believe there should be a zero-tolerance policy as far as that goes," he said at SEC media days. "I think that's what's heading it up, and I would think most people would have that same view."

Johnson was dismissed from the FSU football team after video surfaced of him punching a 21-year-old female student in the face at a bar, and Cook was suspended indefinitely after being charged with misdemeanor battery for punching another 21-year-old woman in the face outside of a bar. Taylor was dismissed at Alabama for a second domestic violence charge in less than a year, and Tunsil was arrested on misdemeanor charges for allegedly attacking his stepfather.

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