SEC fines Meyer $30,000

Florida coach Urban Meyer has been fined $30,000 by the Southeastern Conference for public comments he made regarding a call he believes officials missed during last week's game against Georgia, the conference announced Friday.

It's the first time the SEC has fined a coach under bylaws the conference toughened late last month, following a spate of public comments by SEC coaches questioning calls and criticizing officials.

"Coach Meyer has violated the Southeastern Conference code of ethics," commissioner Mike Slive said. "SEC bylaw 10.5.4 clearly states that the coaches, players and support personnel shall refrain from public criticism of officials. The league's athletics directors and presidents and chancellors have made it clear that negative public comments on officiating are not acceptable."

Meyer, in a statement, said he respected the decision and apologized.

"As I stated last week, I have great respect for Commissioner Mike Slive and the Southeastern Conference and I respect this decision," Meyer said. "There was no intent to criticize an official after being asked about a situation that occurred last Saturday and I apologize for my remarks."

On Wednesday, Meyer said he believed SEC officials missed a late hit on quarterback Tim Tebow in Saturday's game against Georgia.

Meyer said the crew calling the game should have flagged Bulldogs linebacker Nick Williams for knocking Tebow to the ground well after he had gotten rid of the football.

He didn't mention the play until asked about it Wednesday, possibly trying to avoid drawing punishment from the league. He also prefaced his comments by saying he has "great respect" for SEC officials and the way the league handles complaints.

The SEC decided to stop handing out reprimands for ripping officials -- and start handing out fines and suspensions -- after three coaches in less than a week were reprimanded last month.

Slive, in his eighth season with the conference, was given full discretion by the league's athletic directors and presidents to hand out the punishment on a case-by-case basis. The change in league bylaws was unanimously approved by the conference's university presidents and athletic directors.

The SEC's officiating, and public complaints by Tennessee's Lane Kiffin and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, has drawn plenty of unwanted attention for the league.

An officiating crew was suspended last month after it called penalties the league said were not supported by video evidence in the LSU-Georgia game Oct. 3 and the Arkansas-Florida game Oct. 17. The SEC publicly announced the suspensions, an unprecedented move by the conference.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.