April 14, 2009
The appearance of former Mississippi State football coach Jackie Sherrill at spring football practice last week has caused quite a stir.
Sherrill''s possible interaction with the Bulldogs at Friday''s workout might have violated an NCAA bylaw regarding the limitation of coaches taking part in on-the-field teaching.
Sherrill, who was a guest of coach Dan Mullen, might have taken his visit a little too far by participating in direct teaching. The visit has left the athletic department scrambling to gather the facts.
MSU Assistant Athletic Director of Compliance Bracky Brett said there is an investigation ongoing to see if an NCAA rule was broken.
"We''re in the process of looking into the whole thing," Brett said. "We''ll be handling this as we would any potential violation incident. We''ll look into it and then determine whether an allegation needs to be reported. Right now, we''re just gathering facts on what occurred."
Brett said NCAA bylaw 11.7.2 limits schools to one head coach, nine assistants, and two graduate assistants. Also, NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11.1.4 allows for the use of consultants to train the staff, but the consultant can''t interact with players unless he or she is counted against the coaching limit.
Since Sherrill, who was MSU''s coach from 1991-2003, is no longer employed by the school, any contact with a player at practice could be considered an NCAA violation.
Mullen and Sherrill have denied any direct coaching took place, but photos of Sherrill at practice show otherwise.
"He was coaching coaches. I was coaching players," Mullen said.
The men have developed a bond since Mullen was hired as coach Dec. 11, 2008. At halftime of the Jan. 31, 2009, basketball game, Mullen acknowledged Sherrill''s presence and invited him onto the court to make a few comments to the crowd.
Mullen embraces the mentoring of Sherrill, who helped the Bulldogs win the SEC Western Division championship and took the program to six bowl games during his tenure.
"Since I''ve taken the job, he''s done nothing but offer me assistance, and I really appreciate that from him," Mullen said.
MSU football team spokesman Joe Galbraith said the matter is in the hands of the compliance office and Mullen has chosen not to discuss it further.
Even if a violation happened, Brett anticipates it will be a secondary incident.