Kiffin reprimanded by SEC, apologizes

Updated: February 5, 2009, 9:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin apologized Thursday for remarks he made about Florida coach Urban Meyer, where he alleged the Gators coach violated recruiting rules in pursuing wide receiver prospect Nu'Keese Richardson.

I apologize to Commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC, including Florida AD Jeremy Foley and coach Urban Meyer. My comments were not intended to offend anyone at the University of Florida.

-- Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin

Florida demanded an apology and the SEC publicly reprimanded Kiffin on Thursday.

"I've been made aware by the Southeastern Conference that my comments this morning at a breakfast with our donors violated a conference policy," Kiffin said in a statement. "In my enthusiasm for our recruiting class, I made some statements that were meant solely to excite those at the breakfast.

"I apologize to Commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC, including Florida AD Jeremy Foley and coach Urban Meyer. My comments were not intended to offend anyone at the University of Florida."

WVLT-TV reported that Kiffin told a group of fans at a signing day breakfast celebration Thursday morning that Meyer phoned Richardson while the recruit was making his official visit to Tennessee recently.

"I'm gonna turn Florida in right here in front of you," Kiffin said, according to WVLT-TV. "While Nu'Keese was on campus, his phone kept ringing. One of the coaches says, 'Who's that?' And he said, 'Urban Meyer.'"

Richardson, a Pahokee, Fla., native, signed with the Volunteers on Tuesday, despite having indicated he would sign with the Gators.

Kiffin told the crowd, "I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him."

The SEC said that Kiffin broke the conference's code of ethics with his comments at the breakfast.

"Coach Kiffin has violated the Southeastern Conference Code of Ethics," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement. "SEC Bylaw 10.5.1 clearly states that coaches and administrators shall refrain from directed public criticism of other member institutions, their staffs or players.

"The phone call to which Coach Kiffin referred to in his public comments is not a violation of SEC or NCAA rules. We expect our coaches to have an understanding and knowledge of conference and NCAA rules."

In a statement released Thursday, Florida demanded an apology from Kiffin.

"His allegations are inappropriate, out of line and, most importantly, totally false," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in the statement. "It is completely unfair to Urban Meyer, our coaching staff, our football program and our institution. The appropriate action at this time in my opinion is for Coach Kiffin to make a public apology."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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