Ole Miss has self-imposed a number of penalties related to a four-year investigation into NCAA compliance, plus sanctions for a few current and former Rebel assistant coaches.
"All but one of the 16 Level I violations arose from intentional misconduct committed by rogue former employees or boosters outside the University's direct control acting in contravention of rules education provided to them by the University," Ole Miss claims. Level I allegations are the most severe, and the football program faces eight of those, though some are allegations for which former tackle Laremy Tunsil was suspended in 2015.
So what's being alleged?
Overall, 13 are football allegations, with a few tied to the previous coaching staff. Nine concern Hugh Freeze's staff. Those nine:
- On multiple occasions, cars were allegedly loaned for an impermissable period to two players. It's been previously confirmed that Cannon Motors in Oxford loaned cars to Laremy Tunsil. Level I
- Ole Miss compliance staff allegedly failed to monitor the loaner car situation. Staffers allegedly learned of an improper loan in October of 2014 and didn't do anything about, making that player ineligible for six subsequent games he played in.Level II
- A booster allegedly gave $800 cash to Tunsil's stepfather. Level I
- A booster allegedly provided impermissible lodging to a player on multiple occasions. Level I
- Assistant coach Chris Kiffin allegedly provided two nights of impermissible lodging.Level III
- Kiffin allegedly arranged for free meals and free nights at a hotel for a recruits family members. Level II
- Kiffin allegedly had an impermissable 10-minute, off-campus conversation with two recruits. Level III
- A booster allegedly provided four recruits with unspecified "inducements" totaling about $2,200. Assistant coach Maurice Harris was not only aware of this, but helped arrange the benefits for two of the recruits. Level I
- Someone from the Ole Miss video department allegedly filmed recruits wearing Ole Miss gear in the IPF, then showed that video to the recruits and their parents. Level III
SB Nation obtained this infographic that was circulated among Ole Miss season ticket-holders.
And the punishments so far?
The program will dock itself 10 football scholarships over the next three seasons (two in 2016, and four each in 2017 and 2018), plus one it's counting from the 2015 season. It also self-imposes a $159,352 fine, and "involved staff" will undergo "additional rules education" on NCAA policy.
Ole Miss has suspended two currently unnamed assistant coaches from recruiting and "disassociated" itself from four unnamed "individuals." Assistants Kiffin, Derrick Nix and Harris are named as having facilitated impermissible benefits for recruits, however.
Two former assistants are named:
The underlying events that led to the first set of alleged violations occurred in the summer of 2010, about six years ago and a year and a half before the current coaching staff was hired in December 2011. These allegations involve two members of a previous coaching staff, former football staff member David Saunders and former assistantfootball coach Chris Vaughn. The violations concern three distinct issues: (1) Saunders allegedly arranging on one occasion for fraudulent ACT scores for three prospects; (2) Saunders and Vaughn committing unethical conduct related to the investigation into testing fraud; and (3) impermissible temporary lodging, meals, and transportation for six prospects during June and July 2010.
Both served on Houston Nutt's staff at Oxford, and Vaughn had already lost a new job at Texas, apparently because of his involvement.
Ole Miss' women's basketball and track teams also lost previous head coaches as a result of infractions, and those teams will face a variety of scholarship, visit and transfer restrictions moving forward.
Last season, the NCAA suspended star tackle Tunsil for seven games, after the organization determined he had received "impermissible extra benefits." Those included using loaner cars without paying for them over a six-month period, receiving an interest-free, $3,000 loan to buy his own car, an airplane ticket and "two nights of lodging at a local home." His previous suspension could potentially mitigate further damage.
This isn't the end of this story, though.
Next, the NCAA can choose to add additional penalties or accept the Rebels' self-punishment as it stands.
Wrote Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork and Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter:
Most of the more significant violations resulted from either (1) intentional misconduct and efforts to conceal that misconduct by former employees who face unethical conduct charges and personal sanctions; or (2) actions of individual boosters who conducted themselves contrary to rules education provided by the University. For 27 of the 28 allegations, we agree that a violation of NCAA rules occurred; however, for several of those allegations we do not agree on all of the facts. For five of those 27 violations, we believe the violation should be classified differently (e.g., the violation is alleged as a "Level II violation" but we contend the violation should be classified as "Level III").
At last month's NFL Draft, a hack of Tunsil's Instagram account revealed an apparent text message conversation between the player and an Ole Miss administrator, John Miller. In the texts, Tunsil appears to be asking Miller for money to help pay his and his mother's rent. Ole Miss acknowledged shortly thereafter that the texts weren't entirely faked, and Tunsil seemed to admit in a post-draft press conference that he'd taken money from coaches before.
Because of that late news, the NCAA Committee on Infractions' full response could be delayed.
Around 2013, Ole Miss transitioned from a middling recruiter to one of the best teams in the country at adding top talent, and that stoked suspicion that the Rebels' rise might be too good to be true. Current head coach Hugh Freeze has challenged that narrative in the past.