In the first test of the SEC’s new edict on publicly criticizing officials, the conference has decided not to suspend Florida head coach Urban Meyer.
Instead, the league has fined Myer $30,000 for questioning a non-call in the Georgia game during the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday.
“Coach Meyer has violated the Southeastern Conference Code of Ethics,”commissioner Mike Slive said. “SEC Bylaw 10.5.4 clearly states that the coaches, players and support personnel shall refrain from public criticism of officials. The league’s Athletics Directors and Presidents and Chancellors have made it clear that negative public comments on officiating are not acceptable.”
The new policy, created in the wake of heavy criticism of officiating over a span of two weeks last month, allows Slive the latitude to either fine or suspend — or both — a coach who is critical of officials, even for a first-time offense.
In response to the fine, Meyer released a statement of apology.
“As I stated last week, I have great respect for Commissioner Mike Slive and the Southeastern Conference and I respect this decision. There was no intent to criticize an official after being asked about a situation that occurred last Saturday and I apologize for my remarks.”
The $30K fine represents .75 percent of Meyer’s average annual salary of $4 million.
UPDATE — 1:37 PM ET: According to the Birmingham News, Meyer’s fine was the second-largest ever imposed by the SEC. Kentucky was fined $50,000 in Oct. of 2007 after fans stormed the field following the Wildcats’ upset of LSU.
The paper also reports that Meyer is believed to be the first coach in the SEC in any sport to be fined for public comments.