Crew removed from Oct. 31 game
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Southeastern Conference has suspended officials from last weekend's Arkansas-Florida game after the crew was involved in its second controversial call of the year.
Referee Marc Curles' crew called a personal foul on Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard in the fourth quarter as the Gators were rallying for a 23-20 victory. The league said there was no video evidence to support the call.
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The same group of officials called the LSU-Georgia game earlier this month, which included a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the league said shouldn't have been called.
"A series of calls that have occurred during the last several weeks have not been to the standard that we expect from our officiating crews," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Wednesday. "I believe our officiating program is the best in the country. However, there are times when these actions must be taken."
SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said this is the first time the league has publicly suspended a football crew like this.
The SEC says the crew will be removed from its next scheduled assignment Oct. 31 and will not be assigned to officiate as a crew until Nov. 14.
The league said the crew's bowl assignments could also be impacted.
"The entire crew shoulders responsibility for each play. I have taken this action because there must be accountability in our officiating program," Slive said. "Our institutions expect the highest level of officiating in all of our sports and it is the duty of the conference office to uphold that expectation."
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said in a statement: "We took the appropriate steps to address any issues we had with the league regarding this matter earlier in the week. Our focus as a football team has been and remains on this weekend's game against Ole Miss."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press