By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Even though the SEC’s supervisor of officials backed Rick Stansbury’s complaint, Mississippi State’s basketball coach had to pay a steep price for his words.
On Thursday, the SEC announced a $30,000 fine of Stansbury for his criticism of officials following the SEC Tournament championship game a month ago. It was the first fine ever levied against an SEC basketball coach for criticizing officials.
“It’s obvious I’ve said enough already,” Stansbury said in a statement. “So, it is what it is.”
The call in question was actually a non-call at the end of regulation. With MSU leading Kentucky by two points, Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe intentionally missed a free throw, which the Wildcats rebounded, and they scored a game-tying bucket at the buzzer.
Kentucky appeared to commit a lane violation, and SEC supervisor of officials Gerald Boudreaux concurred with Stansbury that a call should’ve been made against Kentucky, which would have given MSU the ball with the lead.
UK went on to win in overtime, 75-74.
A win would have earned the Bulldogs an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. Instead, they settled for an NIT bid, losing in the second round to North Carolina.
“I’ve been at this a long time and one thing I’ve learned, at Mississippi State you’re supposed to take it and be quiet,” Stansbury told the Lexington Herald-Leader after the game. “I had a hard time swallowing this pill because so much was at stake and my players were affected. When does the truth matter?”
Stansbury’s criticism violated SEC bylaw 10.5.4, which forbids coaches, players and team personnel from publicly criticizing game officials. Policy regarding fines and suspensions for such criticism was beefed up in October.
“The league’s athletics directors and presidents and chancellors have made it clear that negative public comments on officiating are not acceptable,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement.
The SEC declined further comment when contacted by the Daily Journal.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org