Ole Miss formally responded to the NCAA Tuesday. It’s a 124-page document that goes into great detail to state the school’s defense piece by piece. You can read the whole thing here if that’s something you’re into.
There’s a lot in there, obviously, but here’s the stuff you really need to know about what will happen with this investigation moving forward.
There’s really no middle ground on what’ll happen to the Rebels.
This whole saga ends with Ole Miss either getting increased sanctions in addition to what it self imposed or not. Nobody’s really here to compromise. There really isn’t much room for soft sanctions either, given the nature of what the school is up against. There are 11 Level 1 (the highest) allegations included in the 21 charges against the school. Hopefully this all gets resolved by the end of the calendar year. Either way, buckle up.
Ole Miss wants to move on in recruiting, and the NCAA has been criticized publicly for the protracted length of its investigations into Ole Miss and North Carolina.
How exactly Ole Miss plays its case is still a mystery, but there’s overwhelming indication that the school is standing by Freeze, the man directly targeted by the NCAA.
At each step of this final phase, it’s becoming more and more likely that the ending of this saga will be a head-on collision, not a brokered compromise. Either Ole Miss will pull off a masterful undoing of the NCAA’s years of investigative work, or the Rebels will be punished with severity.
Ole Miss is ride or die with Hugh Freeze.
The fall guy in this whole thing is certainly not Hugh Freeze, at least at this point. From the school’s defense:
This case does not involve a head coach who facilitated or participated in violations or otherwise ignored red flags associated with them. Freeze developed and implemented a broad, staff-wide compliance program dedicated to satisfying the NCAA’s amended head coach responsibility legislation in early 2013, and he has continuously worked to expand and improve upon that program ever since.
All this does beg the question: Is it a good idea to be so in the bunker with Freeze? Our Steven Godfrey discussed that, and other recruiting fallout from the scandal in podcast form.
Former assistant AD Barney Farrar might just be that fall guy.
Farrar was fired after Laremy Tunsil’s phone was hacked in the draft night debacle back in 2016. Farrar has denied being the contact Tunsil would go to get money.
Ole Miss doesn’t buy that.
Here's Ole Miss throwing Barney Farrar under the bus pic.twitter.com/oDjNVvLhGO— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) June 6, 2017
Ole Miss tried to interview Dan Mullen.
One of the biggest smoking gun testimonies in this whole deal comes from Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis. Lewis was given limited immunity to speak to the NCAA about whether or not he was paid by boosters to go to Ole Miss. Incidentally, there are 14 boosters referenced in the document as having ties to this scandal in some way. The school admits that it is “troubled” by the contact in the document between Lewis and the boosters but dispute the fact that there is enough evidence to say Leo was paid by two of the boosters specifically.
Ole Miss does this through a web of hole poking into Lewis’ three separate interviews, including using the fact that it tried to interview Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, but were denied.
Further, when evidence led to the University requesting that [Institution 10] help with a limited interview of [Student-Athlete 39’s] coach, [College Head Coach 1], [Institution 10] rejected the request outright. Prior to submitting this response, the University sought permission from the Committee to interview both [Student-Athlete 39] and [College Head Coach 1], but the Committee denied that relief.
There’s a point to asking Mullen to speak and it doesn’t have much to do with actually getting him to speak. It increases Ole Miss’ defense that the whole thing is unfair to the school it was blocked from speaking to Mullen. Conceivably, Mullen would have been able to further vet things surrounding Lewis’ recruitment.
Ole Miss can then use all that to further discredit Lewis. How can Lewis really be believed if the Rebels weren’t able to accurately investigate his claims?
Ole Miss says it was super cooperative with the NCAA.
Besides the self imposed sanctions, the school wants everyone to know that it rose above issues that to be exemplary investigatees. Again, from the document:
Despite procedural issues that prejudiced the University and handicapped its ability to discover the truth in this case, see Exhibit IN-3, University Correspondence with COI (April 28, 2017), the University has made every effort to ensure that the investigation, both on its own and in conjunction with the enforcement staff, has been thorough, comprehensive and exhaustive.
Schools often institute self imposed sanctions in an effort to soften whatever coming blow the NCAA dishes out in its final ruling
Other random fun stuff.
Ole Miss isn’t a fan of Google Maps, Apple Maps or WAZE apparently.
they used yahoo maps to sleuth out how long it would take a booster to drive to leo lewis' high school pic.twitter.com/uxyfgHAyeX— Jim Lohmar (@jimlohmar) June 6, 2017
Usually when recruits are paid under the table it’s a couple hundred here or there. It’s, uhh, not $10,000 at one time in cash.