You might remember this tweet, released in the wake of Ole Miss’ NCAA allegations increasing from 13 to 21. It was tweeted by Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis.
Lewis was given limited immunity by the NCAA to speak freely about Ole Miss and any potential violations throughout his recruitment. In a 124-page document released Tuesday, Ole Miss responded to the NCAA’s allegations and included Lewis’ tweet along with an attempt to discredit him.
The curious request for limited immunity – which [Student-Athlete 39] probably did not need because recruiting violations committed by a University booster would not usually render him ineligible at his current institution – raises the possibility that [Student-Athlete 39] was seeking to use the immunity process and his first interview to explain his access to large sums of money around signing day while deflecting questions about the true source of that money and simultaneously harming his team’s football rival in a very public way
[Student-Athlete 39’s] social media response to the University’s video announcing its receipt of the Notice, which seemingly celebrates the negative publicity that followed the announcement, indicates that [Student-Athlete 39] enjoyed causing the University harm.
In the response to the notice of allegations, Ole Miss spends about half a page trying to tell you that Lewis (who isn’t named in the actual report) didn’t need immunity and that even if a violation happened that Lewis would have been eligible at Mississippi State.
After very clearly telling the NCAA’s personnel and anyone that reads this document why they shouldn’t believe Lewis because of his motives, the document then sets aside the issue of motive and moves on to try and create doubt about whether or not Lewis was actually paid. Ole Miss admits that Lewis had contact with multiple boosters and says it is “troubled” by that contact. But Ole Miss asserts that Lewis’ word alone is not enough to prove money exchanged hands.
Whether or not a booster or boosters actually committed a violation in the recruitment of Lewis, the Rebels were still unable to actually sign him in a battle for his services against bitter rival Mississippi State. Best case scenario: They just missed out on a talented player. Worst case: A booster paid a kid and he still signed with your hated in-state foe.