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Mark Richt hopes for 'discretion' in new SEC transfer rule

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

MACON, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt hopes there is room for "discretion" in the SEC's new rule which blocks schools from accepting transfers who have had "serious misconduct" problems.

The Southeastern Conference is the first league to prohibit accepting transfers of student-athletes who have a history of such offenses. The league defined serious misconduct as sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of sexual violence.

Richt said on Tuesday that there is "certainly wisdom" in the rule, which was passed at the SEC's spring meetings on Friday in Destin, Florida. He said he believes there will be room in the rule to consider special circumstances.

"I think there's some wisdom in that but you've also got to have some discretion to make sure we're not keeping guys from having a chance that deserve a chance," Richt said. "I think it's set up to work that out."

Georgia proposed the legislation, which was passed by SEC presidents. Richt, speaking at the annual Pigskin Preview meeting of the state's college football coaches, said coaches didn't vote on the proposal "because it was in the middle of getting tweaked" by athletic directors or presidents.

Georgia proposed the new legislation following the transfer of former Bulldogs defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor to Alabama.

Georgia dismissed Taylor last July after he was arrested on a charge of felony aggravated assault and family violence. Police said he struck his girlfriend with a closed fist and choked her during an argument at Taylor's dormitory room. Taylor also was arrested in 2014 for illegal check-cashing at Georgia.

Taylor enrolled at Alabama following a stop at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. The Tide dismissed him two months later after he was arrested again on domestic violence charges in Tuscaloosa. The female accuser later recanted her allegations, saying she had not been harmed by Taylor.

Taylor, 21, entered a not guilty plea during an arraignment on April 7 in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court on the felony assault and misdemeanor battery charges following the incident in Athens.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson scoffed when asked if the Atlantic Coast Conference should adopt a policy similar to the SEC's new transfer rule.

"We don't have that problem, I don't think," Johnson said. "We can't get them in school anyway. I've never had that problem accepting kids with serious misconduct problems."

New SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said last week "significant university or athletics department disciplinary actions" will become "a stopping point for a transfer" to a conference school.

Sankey also said "there's an opportunity for review but not any assurance that there would be a particular outcome."