BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (January 17, 2020) - Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey has publicly reprimanded and levied a fine of $25,000 to Mississippi State head men's basketball coach Ben Howland for his comments about private communications with the Conference office related to officiating. The comments were made during a press conference on Monday following Mississippi State University's men's basketball contest with LSU on January 11.
Howland's comments were made in violation of SEC Bylaw 10.5.4, which prohibits coaches, players and support personnel from all public criticism of officials and from making public any specific communications with the Conference office related to officiating.
"The Southeastern Conference membership has unanimously approved a bylaw prohibiting public comments about confidential discussions with the Conference office related to officiating and we have an obligation to enforce approved Conference regulations," said Sankey. "The Conference assigns a high priority for administrators, coaches and student-athletes to support its officiating program, and the confidentiality of communication between the SEC's Coordinator of Men's Basketball Officiating and coaches as well as other school personnel is critical to maintaining a productive and cooperative environment for the conference's officiating program to succeed and improve."
Future violations of the Conference's Code of Ethics may result in additional penalties including a game suspension.
Fines levied against schools and individuals in the Conference are directed in to a fund supporting the SEC's post-graduate scholarship program.