Meyer says suspension was just

Updated: October 22, 2009, 9:09 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer thinks the Southeastern Conference was right to suspend an officiating crew after 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 last weekend. The league said Wednesday there was no video evidence to support the call.

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.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said the crew would be pulled from its next scheduled assignment Oct. 31 and won't work again until Nov. 14. Bowl assignments could also be impacted.

"If that's the right thing to do, then they did it," Meyer said Thursday. "I don't know all the ins and outs ... [but] I have great confidence in the head dog."

Slive said the entire crew shoulders responsibility for each play, and said the suspension was necessary to maintain accountability among officials.

"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," he said.

SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said it is the first time the league has publicly suspended a football crew in this type of situation, the only decision that Meyer questioned.

"Why would you do that?" he said. "I don't understand that part."

Later on Thursday Slive issued a public reprimand of Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino for publicly criticizing the officials earlier in the week.

"Coach Petrino has violated the Southeastern Conference Code of Ethics," Slive said in a statement. "SEC Bylaw 10.5.4 clearly states that coaches, players and support personnel shall refrain from all public criticism of officials."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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