If you've missed it, Mississippi State has announced that Jeffery Simmons will indeed be enrolling at Mississippi State, but he will be under the obligation to fulfill certain conditions for the team.
5-star Mississippi State signee Jeffery Simmons allowed to enroll, with conditions pic.twitter.com/okHn2qpzI9— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) June 2, 2016
I believe that Mississippi State's athletic department could have handled this situation in a considerably better manner. While I don't believe Simmons deserves to play football again, I do recognize that there are cases to be made for giving him a second chance. However, MSU fumbled their attempt to do that.
If this is about rehabilitation for a young man to give him a chance to grow, then his counseling should be with a group that is not affiliated with the university and it should be an arrangement that lasts an extended period of time, which is not something that has been explicitly stated. If MSU wants to help him grow, they should pursue plenty of volunteer and community service opportunities to put him in situations to serve others and grow through that.
And while giving a second chance to Simmons, if they want to truly punish him for his actions, then they should have given him a larger punishment than just one game. Instead, this feels as if Dan Mullen and Scott Stricklin were just going through the motions with the decision for this suspension. And it's something that both university president Mark Keenum and the SEC thought was appropriate.
Stricklin on school president's involvement: "Ultimately, if our president wasn't comfortable with it, he wouldn't have signed off on it."— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) June 2, 2016
Miss. State AD Scott Stricklin says SEC league office was informed of decision to admit Jeffery Simmons and was comfortable with decision.— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) June 2, 2016
Mississippi State's athletic department, along with Mark Keenum and the SEC league office, missed the mark here. There was no easy way to solve this problem due to how unique this situation is with Simmons not being an MSU student, but this attempt to appease all sides truly fell short. This response feels tone deaf and calloused, despite any intentions that Mississippi State University may have had.
Despite the fact that I personally don't believe he should play football again, I'm hoping for the best for Simmons. I hope he can turn this situation into something where he can grow as a human and impact others in a positive way. Dan Mullen, Mark Keenum, and Scott Stricklin have given Simmons a second chance. Hopefully he takes full advantage and grows from this.