SEC reprimands Kiffin

New Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin didn't waste much time getting on the wrong side of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.

Slive publicly reprimanded Kiffin today for accusing Florida coach Urban Meyer of cheating. Speaking at a Big Orange booster breakfast in Knoxville, Kiffin alleged that Meyer contacted Pahokee (Fla.) receiver prospect Nu'Keese Richardson by cell phone while the player was on his official visit to UT. Richardson had committed to Florida but signed with Tennessee on Wednesday.

After suggesting that coaches cannot contact prospects while they're visiting another campus, Kiffin quipped, "I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him."

Unfortunately for Kiffin, Meyer's phone contact with Richardson did not violate any recruiting rules, a fact addressed hours later in a statement released by Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley:

"There was no rule violation and we have confirmed this with Southeastern Conference," Foley said. "It is obvious that Coach Kiffin doesn't know that there is not a rule precluding phone contact with a prospect during an official visit on another campus during a contact period.

"His allegations are inappropriate, out of line and, most importantly, totally false. It is completely unfair to Urban Meyer, our coaching staff, our football program and our institution. The appropriate action at this time in my opinion is for Coach Kiffin to make a public apology. His comments not only slandered our coach, but he violated SEC rules by publicly criticizing another coach and institution."

Slive agreed with Foley and issued a public reprimand of Kiffin:

"Coach Kiffin has violated the Southeastern Conference Code of Ethics," Slive said. "SEC Bylaw 10.5.1 clearly states that coaches and administrators shall refrain from directed public criticism of other member institutions, their staffs or players."

"The phone call to which Coach Kiffin referred to in his public comments is not a violation of SEC or NCAA rules. We expect our coaches to have an understanding and knowledge of conference and NCAA rules." football writer Dennis Dodd wrote about the Kiffin/Meyer incident today, closing his article with these words:

"The K-Man might be good at playing to a crowd but what goes around, comes around. I seem to recall that Tennessee has to visit Gainesville this year and The Urban Legend does not take slights well. Anybody remember the payback for the Gator Stomp?

"Count on another couple of extra touchdowns dropped on you in September, Lane. You're preaching to the choir now. The devil will get his due -- later."

Kiffin's comments came one day after his recruiters pulled two Florida commitments away from Meyer and convinced them to sign with Tennessee. Perhaps the new Vol coach was feeling a little invincible. After all, he's young (33) and inexperienced (beginning his third month as a college head coach after two seasons in the NFL).

Regardless, Kiffin apologized for the remark, adding that he merely was attempting to excite the crowd of donors and alumni.

"In my enthusiasm for our recruiting class, I made some statements that were meant solely to excite those at the breakfast," he said. "I apologize to commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC, including Florida (athletic director) Jeremy Foley and coach Urban Meyer. My comments were not intended to offend anyone at the University of Florida."

Perish the thought.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories