Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen had been largely silent on the punishment of Jeffrey Simmons, the incoming freshman who was arrested in March and charged with simple assault and disturbing the peace after a video emerged on social media that appeared to show him hitting a woman several times after she fell to the ground.
The incident happened in March and here is video, which is graphic.
Simmons, a top prospect, was allowed to enroll at the Starkville, Miss., and will be suspended for the Bulldogs’ opening game. Mullen said the punishment was a university decision.
The punishment was considered lenient by many, and some believed Simmons shouldn’t have been admitted to the school. Mullen was asked at SEC Media Days on Tuesday how he would have reacted if that had been his wife or daughter in the video.
“I don’t know if my family would be in that situation,” Mullen said.
Pressed, Mullen expanded on his answer.
“I’m very strongly against any violence toward women, toward anybody to be honest with you,” Mullen said. “But in investigating the whole thing, the whole story, everything that went on, there was a lot more than 10 seconds of video in that investigation.
“(Simmons) is a young man, that video does not really define who that young man is, in knowing him four years now. I think that was pretty uncharacteristic of him as a young man. So, I would hate — and not just him, honestly — I would hate for anybody for their life to be defined by only 10 seconds of video of your life. Especially if you’re a young 18 year old.
“I’d hate for that to be anybody … that that is now all you get to do in life, that you don’t have an opportunity to get an education, to be mentored by father figures when you don’t have a father. I think you deserve the opportunity to be mentored by father figures. I think you deserve the opportunity to still get an education. I think you deserve an opportunity to better yourself and make something of yourself in life.”