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The SEC has spoken on another officiating controversy, this time the fact that official Anthony Jordan – who made the decisive call in LSU’s win over Tennessee on Saturday – had a 2014 social media post in which he held up an LSU shirt and wrote “Geaux Tigers.”
Let’s start with that, this is SEC associate commissioner Herb Vincent’s email in response to my emailed questions Sunday night on Jordan and whether the league would react in any way:
“Anthony Jordan, the official in this social media post, has communicated to us that while traveling in Spain five years ago he saw the t-shirt from an SEC team for sale in a store,” Vincent wrote. “He took a picture and posted that picture to be seen by friends via his social media account. He said it was his intent to make a light-hearted social media post about having seen the t-shirt in another country and not to express affinity for a particular school.
“Jordan has officiated at a high level in the SEC for 19 years, including 11 assignments in NCAA postseason tournaments.
“We do not find this social media post to be acceptable with our expectations and will proceed accordingly, while also acknowledging Mr. Jordan has a lengthy track record as a fair and impartial basketball official.”
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So what does “proceed accordingly” mean? It should mean Jordan — whose foul call on Grant Williams in the waning seconds enabled LSU to hit the winning free throws in overtime — never officiates another LSU basketball game again, at the least. I mean, this may have been a “light-hearted” post but it’s hard to argue this doesn’t convey an affinity for a particular school. Do people who aren’t LSU fans ever use the expression “Geaux Tigers?”
In a later email response to follow-up questions, Vincent said the SEC doesn’t comment on officiating assignments. We’re going to have to see for ourselves what the league does with Jordan. Vincent did answer my question on how the league vets officials, and here’s that full statement:
“The SEC has a conflict-of-interest policy,” Vincent wrote, “that prohibits the participation of an individual officiating a game involving a school in the following categories:
• Any school the official attended (either as a student or faculty).
• Any school where immediate family (spouse or children) is currently enrolled.
• Any school where the official played for or with the current head coach.
• Any school where there is a relative on coaching staff.
• Any school where there is a business relationship with the head coach and/or institution.
• Any school where the official or an immediate family member is currently employed by the institution.
“The SEC conducts extensive background checks on all of its game officials. Those background checks primarily focus on legal issues and/or criminal activity and not on social media activity.
“SEC officials are instructed that any communications including use of social media to convey information or discuss any aspect of games, coaches, teams or players are strictly prohibited.”
So there’s nothing on just “being a fan,” which would of course be a difficult thing to pin down — most officials are fans of some teams at some point in their lives, right? A social media post like this, however, is a problem for the SEC.
It is not the crime of the century. It doesn’t change the fact that LSU won Saturday’s game and Tennessee lost it. But overt fandom in an official is not something I’d want anywhere near my league.