The Southeastern Conference has responded to its latest officiating controversy in men’s basketball after it was revealed that an official who made a key call in LSU’s recent overtime win over Tennessee had once posted a pro-LSU message on social media.
The Nashville Tennessean reports Anthony Jordan, whose foul call on Grant Williams enabled LSU to hit the winning free throws in the final seconds of overtime, once posted “Geaux Tigers” while holding up an LSU shirt on his social media account.
The ending to the Tennessee/LSU game was bonkers pic.twitter.com/08zMgDANt1— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 23, 2019
SEC associate commissioner Herb Vincent provided some additional context, writing in an email to the Tennessean that “while traveling in Spain five years ago [Jordan] saw the t-shirt from an SEC team for sale in a store. 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.”
That explanation may not sit well with Tennessee fans, who in addition to what wound up being the decisive call saw their team whistled for 22 fouls throughout the game compared to LSU’s 17. However, it appears the league is taking action. In the email, Vincent continued “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.”
Jordan has reportedly been a league official for 19 seasons, including 11 NCAA postseason tournament assignments.
What specifically may be done in Jordan’s case remains to be seen, but Vincent wrote in a follow-up email that:
“The SEC has a conflict-of-interest policy 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 of faculty)
- Any school where immediate family (spouse our 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.”