By: Tori Vincent
Jeffrey Simmons, an 18 year old football recruit, caught on video repeatedly beating a woman, will soon be a Mississippi State Bulldog, thanks to head coach Dan Mullen. The safety of the female students could be resting in the hands of Mullen.
It seems as though winning football games has surpassed the safety of the campus.
Mullen has stated he believes Simmons deserves a chance and will be admitted under condition. He must sit out the first game of the season.
The SEC states that transfers who were convicted of a crime or pleaded guilty to a felony at any time in their college career, are banned from playing for the university. However, this statute does not include incoming freshmen due to the fact their juvenile records are sealed.
The coaches who are considering signing those who are 18 and younger face the serious issue of being unaware of the crimes and affairs they could’ve taken part in, which was exactly the case for Simmons.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey stated these types of issues can be extremely difficult to address due to the sensitivity of underage students.
The opinion expressed by Sankey is one many people share. He feels uncomfortable.
Sankey is a man of great power, he understands the consequences the school could face when making a decision like this.
By doing this, MSU is sending a message to people: Football is more important than the safety of women.
Prospective students will begin to shy away from Mississippi State, especially if you are a woman. The bad publicity that’s already coming out of this situation will only get worse once the season starts.
UGA tight end Jeb Blazevich stated he agreed colleges should be more selective when recruiting and pay attention to character traits and the various ways their personality would come out in specific situations, such as this one with Simmons.
UGA faced a similar issue with defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor in 2014. He was dismissed for being charged with aggravated assault/family violence charges. Taylor then signed with Alabama and was later dismissed when his girlfriend said he assaulted her. She later recanted but he pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal mischief.
In a country where sports, especially football, are worshiped by most citizens, it can be easy to become blindsided by that and put the game over the players.
However, the fact coaches have become okay with people who exhibit this kind of violence representing their team is an idea many people can’t wrap their heads around.
It’s hard to believe colleges are willing to ruin their reputation in order to win a few more games, rather than work a little harder with players who are only violent when they’re going after the ball, not when they’re frustrated and take it out on innocent people who were caught in the whiplash.
The question stands as to whether it’s worth losing prospective students, fans, alumni support and various other forms of backing, just for a player who will be gone in four years.
Players are replaceable, but reputations are not, and once the reputation of a university is challenged, it’s hard to build it back.