Greg Sankey issues statement on SEC officiating following weekend of controversial calls
Following a weekend of SEC football that featured some very questionable calls, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey has finally broken his public silence on the league’s officiating.
As you could have probably guessed, South Carolina and Tennessee fans likely aren’t going to be happy with his statement.
In addition to his statement, Sankey points out all the avenues fans have this season to get a better understanding of calls that are being made on Saturdays, including the SEC officiating website, the SEC officiating Twitter account and the addition of former SEC referee Matt Austin to the SEC Network’s coverage every weekend throughout the season.
The SEC released the following statement from Sankey on its website Wednesday:
In his book, Gridiron Genius, NFL executive, analyst and author Michael Lombardi offers this summary of football, “After is all said and done, football is really a game of surprises.”
And yet, in this game of surprises, we ask for perfection.
Perfection from our coaches and student-athletes, and perfection from the game officials who are called upon to instantly apply the rules in real time on every play.
The Southeastern Conference is entrusted with supporting an officiating program that is responsible for calling the games of our member schools. We take this duty most seriously.
We view perfection as our desired goal while also understanding it will always be an elusive standard in a game that is filled with surprises. And we are disappointed when we don’t get it right. Because our goal is to get it right, every time.
While officials have always faced scrutiny, the effect has been intensified in recent years with the evolution of high-definition televisions and the ability to view super slow-motion replays from multiple angles on screens of all sizes and via replays shown on monster, crystal clear in-stadium video boards.
The rules of football permit us to utilize modern technologies to review some, but not all, officiating calls. And while some calls are overturned, we know from our extensive review of all game films that our officials get the call right in the vast, vast majority of situations. SEC Football Officials are dedicated to their work and approach each game with integrity and focus on fairly administering the competition.
But mistakes occur, and when errors happen, the next questions are, “What happens now? Where is the accountability?”
SEC officials are held accountable for the overall body of their work and the work of their officiating crew, which is reviewed on a weekly basis throughout the season and on an annual basis.
Ongoing performance evaluations are used to determine game assignments, postseason assignments, compensation levels and ultimately, whether an official is invited to return for the following season. You can learn more here.
In addition, during the season, officials’ assignments may be altered based on in-season performance. By protocol, the SEC does not publicly announce these assignment changes.
SEC Bylaws require that coaches and administrators refrain from public criticism of officials, as well as making public comments about any specific communications with the Conference office related to officiating. This is a bylaw that was enacted by unanimous vote of the SEC’s member institutions and it is the responsibility of the Conference office to enforce this bylaw by use of private or public reprimands, fines or suspensions.