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Recruit Charged with Assault to Enroll in Summer School

Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin will receive the 2015-16 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Award on June 15 in Dallas.

The day before, Mississippi State incoming freshman defensive end Jeffery Simmons has a scheduled court appearance stemming from an altercation in March that was caught on video in which Simmons hit a woman multiple times while she was on the ground. Simmons, who was arrested and charged with misdemeanor simple assault, was reportedly attempting to break up a fight between the woman and his sister.

Stricklin’s reputation was put to the test Thursday after Mississippi State announced that Simmons, a five-star recruit from Noxubee County (Miss.) High School who signed a letter of intent in February, has been allowed to enroll for summer school and participate in football activities “with conditions,” according to the announcement. Simmons will miss the Bulldogs’ season-opener against South Alabama on Sept. 3.

“Based on conversations our staff has had with school, community and church leaders in Noxubee County, this incident appears to be uncharacteristic of Jeffery,” Stricklin said in a statement. “It’s a highly unique circumstance to administer discipline to a student for an incident that occurred prior to that individual joining our university. However, it’s important that Jeffery and other potential MSU students understand that these type of actions and poor decisions are not acceptable.

“We expect the structure and discipline Jeffery will be a part of in our football program to benefit him,” Stricklin added. “Jeffery will be held accountable for his actions while at MSU, and there will be consequences for any future incidents.”

Stricklin held a press conference Thursday with local and national reporters at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings in Destin, Fla. Several reporters pressed Stricklin for the decision to allow Simmons to play on the team. One reporter, Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, compared Simmons’ one-game punishment to that of a one-game suspension for targeting.

In a separate exchange, after Stricklin urged caution on behalf of Simmons over five seconds of video, another reporter at the press conference said, “It only takes five seconds to murder someone.”

Here’s the full video of Stricklin’s press conference, courtesy of AL.com:

Earlier this week, the SEC passed a new bylaw prohibiting SEC schools from accepting transfers who had been “subject to official university or athletics department disciplinary action at any time during enrollment at any previous collegiate institution … due to serious misconduct.” Those regulations do not apply to incoming freshmen, however.

Simmons apologized for his actions in the video in a Facebook post, then deleted the post.

Related: New SEC Bylaw Bans Transfers with Misconduct Records

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