SEC again suspends player for ‘flagrant and dangerous act’

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The office of the Southeastern Conference has struck again.

A week ago, the SEC suspended freshman defensive back Trae Elston for one game for a hit it described as “flagrant and dangerous.”  A week later, those same words were used by the conference in laying down punitive action against a South Carolina Gamecock.

In a release, the SEC announced that defensive back D.J. Swearinger has been suspended for this weekend’s game against Missouri.  The one-game suspension was the result of a hit Swearinger put on a UAB in this past Saturday’s game.

“These rules are for the protection of the health and safety of our players on both sides of the ball,” said SEC commissioner Mike Slive in a statement.  “It is imperative that our student-athletes understand the importance of this rule.  Our motivation in making these decisions is to protect our student-athletes.”

According to Josh Kendall of The State, Swearinger had posted a video clip of the hit on his Twitter feed a half hour before the SEC announced its decision.  The video has subsequently been removed from the player’s Twitter feed, but you can click HERE to view the hit on YouTube.

Here’s the SEC’s explanation of the suspension:

This action is the result of a flagrant and dangerous act which occurred at the 5:46 mark in the third quarter.  The action is in violation of Rule 9-1-4 of the NCAA Football Rule Book, which reads, “No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder.”

By playing rule, a defenseless opponent is defined by “one who because his physical position and focus of concentration is especially vulnerable to injury.”  One of the examples in the rule book is a receiver whose focus is on catching a pass.

A flag was actually thrown on Swearinger’s hit, while Elston’s didn’t merit the attention of the game officials.

The loss, especially for a conference game within the division, is a significant one.  Swearinger has started all three games this season after starting all 13 in 2011.  The senior has intercepted one pass this season and broken up three others, and has also scored on a fumble return for a touchdown.

Jared Shaw is listed as Swearinger’s backup at free safety on the latest Gamecocks depth chart.