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South Carolina, J.C. Jackson situation shows inconsistency of SEC's disciplinary process

Despite a not guilty verdict, the cornerback has been effectively banned from the SEC.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

By now, you're familiar of the story of J.C. Jackson. Jackson found himself in a great deal of hot water last year. The cornerback, a Florida signee, found himself on the wrong end of armed robbery charges in April 2015, charges that he was found not guilty of in November - but not before he left the school altogether. After spending time playing JUCO ball to prepare for a return to FBS, Jackson was in contact with the men who recruited him to Florida - Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson - and appeared to be on track to come to South Carolina.

Not so. The SEC, as part of an expanded definition what it considers “serious misconduct” conducted by transfer students, basically vetoed it. Instead, Jackson will likely be headed to Maryland and reunite with another former Florida staffer and Muschamp employee, D.J. Durkin.

Now, let's take a trip down to Starkville, Mississippi. Freshman Jeffrey Simmons, who was caught on tape beating a woman, and who is currently facing charges of simple assault (as in, still facing. Not cleared, not acquitted, but still facing), was allowed to enroll at the school. His punishment? A one-game suspension and close monitoring by on-campus officials. That was accompanied by a dismissive spin job by the university's athletic department that all but brushed aside the fact that their five-star, blue chip recruit hit a woman. Repeatedly.

So, let's review. A potential SEC-to-JUCO-back-to-SEC transfer, who was cleared of all wrongdoing in an armed robbery (and from what we hear is making a genuine attempt to turn his life around), is basically blackballed from playing in the SEC. (Word is that Jackson even had a nameplate for his locker and the move was signed off on by university officials.) A incoming freshman, caught on tape repeatedly punching a woman, and still facing charges, is basically slapped on the hand and told not to do it again?

I'm glad J.C. Jackson will get another chance elsewhere and hope that he's learned his lesson. But the fact that he can't play in this conference, even after being found not guilty in a court of law, is disappointing. I understand the SEC's attempts to crack down on these kinds of things, and this is not to exonerate Jackson of running with the wrong crowd and “keeping it real” when he was in Gainesville, but in cases like this, maybe some consistency in the way they handle these things for incoming freshmen and transfers is in order.