Ole Miss hit with extra bowl-ban year and scholarship reductions, with former coaches getting NCAA show-cause penalties

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After five years, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions finally issued a ruling in Ole Miss’s recruiting scandal on Friday morning.

The core penalties, per a source close to Ole Miss:

The NCAA’s release is now here. Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter says the school will “vigorously” appeal the 2018 bowl ban.

At stake here was this:

Of the 21 football allegations, 15 are classified by the NCAA as Level 1 charges — the most serious type. Some of them are more salacious than others, ranging from former staffers allegedly fixing ACT scores to get recruits qualified for the football team to recruits allegedly hunting on boosters’ private land.

Ole Miss self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 season after the new batch of allegations came out in the winter. The school is emphasizing that punishment to the NCAA, probably in the hopes that the organization opts for more leniency.

Among the central tenets to the NCAA’s case is the testimony of star witness, Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis.

Lewis says he was paid by boosters at multiple schools, including Ole Miss. He was given immunity to talk to NCAA investigators.

As SB Nation reported the day prior to the COI report, Lewis revealed new information to the committee that could explain why the ruling has taken so long:

According to sources, Lewis told the Committee on Infractions he received a cash payment of $10,000 “from Mississippi State” on the eve of National Signing Day 2015 to sign with the Bulldogs. When pressed by members of the COI to elaborate, sources say that Lewis stated that he received money to attend MSU from Calvin Green, a defensive backs coach for Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Miss. Green is the father of Farrod Green, Lewis’ friend and Mississippi State teammate, according to sources and documentation.

Both Copiah-Lincoln representatives and Mississippi State sports information director Bill Martin did not return requests for comment on Thursday.

In an email to SB Nation, NCAA Director of Public and Media Relations Stacey Osburn sent the following statement: “The NCAA is always interested in pursuing behaviors that harm college sports, including recruiting violations. When the enforcement staff receives information regarding potential violations, we thoroughly review that information to determine what happened.”

In transcripts of Lewis’ three interviews with NCAA enforcement in 2016, NCAA investigator Michael Sheridan mentions statements by Farrod Green about Lewis’ recruitment by Ole Miss. According to multiple sources and documentation obtained by SB Nation, Green’s statements to the NCAA were used to corroborate Lewis’ claims that he received free merchandise from Rebel Rags, an Ole Miss merchandise retailer; free food and cash from Lee Harris, owner of an Oxford bar; and cash payments totaling over $10,000 from an Ole Miss booster in Jackson, Miss.

All three of those events were outlined in NCAA enforcement’s amended notice, which bumped a Level II “failure to monitor” charge to the Level I “lack of institutional control” charge against the university. Level I is the highest level charge the NCAA can make against a program.

It’s been a wild five years at Ole Miss.

Coach Hugh Freeze had just been hired to bring back Ole Miss from the doldrums of the post-Eli Manning era. He got to work quickly on the recruiting trail. By Signing Day 2013, Freeze had inked WR Laquon Treadwell, DL Robert Nkemdiche, and OL Laremy Tunsil. Each player was the best at the position, and the historic class for the Rebels ranked No. 8 nationally.

But in college sports, coups often have seedy elements, and this one included violations ranging from fixing ACT scores before Freeze arrived to players receiving impermissible benefits during the Freeze era.

Fast-forward to 2017. Freeze resigned after it was revealed that he had called an escort service. He was brought down by his predecessor Houston Nutt, who threatened to sue the school but ended up settling. This saga took many turns, including Tunsil’s draft moment being ruined when his phone was hacked and tweeted out a video of him smoking out of a gas mask. That led to a disastrous press conference where Tunsil inadvertently admitted to being given impermissible benefits. And there is much more zaniness and many other twists and turns to this whole deal.

For all we know, there will be another twist to Ole Miss’ NCAA saga. But we at least know what the penalties are, after years of waiting.

Hey Rebels
Talk about it at our Ole Miss blog

Comments

The FNCAA is an absolute joke.

What a horrific failure of an institution. Digging in their heels when it’s plainly obvious how much bullshit, opinion, speculation, lying and hearsay is involved in this entire shit show of an investigation.

I guess they did cheat

Contrary to many of the assertions of Ole Miss faithful. The 2013 class and the manner in which Freeze bought Tunsil was one of the most brazed disregards for the rules that I can recall. Ranks up there with paying Cam $200k to Auburn and the Pony excess.

Ironically none of that is mentioned anywhere in the NOA

Lol. Let's say every player got 50k to sign with OM during the Freeze era

Not the case, but let’s just use that as an extreme example.

Still doesn’t unbeat that ass. Still doesn’t take away my trips to Nashville, Atlanta, and New Orleans for New Years. Doesn’t un-topple the goal posts in 2014 against Bama, or erase the memory of their fans filing out in the 3rd quarter in Tuscaloosa in 2015. We’re supposed to apologize for doing something every college does? Haha alright then. The NCAA was up our ass for 5 years, and their strongest piece of evidence was a testimony from a rival player that also took money from at least one other school?

Worth it. Thanks for the memories. Hotty Toddy, y’all.

And thank you for that LandShark Defense in 2014 Mr. Wommack

certainly wont forget that

No it doesn't change any of that.

And it also doesn’t change the fact the ole miss rebel bear akbar sharks or whatever it is you’re called couldn’t beat alabama and cash it in for something worth having but take heart, you’re not alone. Neither could LSU, A&M, Auburn in 13 or Auburn this year. Those sacks a’ sh#!t ain’t winning the playoff.

Who does that though? What fanbase brings down their goalpost and rushes the field after winning a conference game?

Oh that’s right, Ole Miss and Auburn.

Yeah man enjoy those memories and try to suppress the future memories of routinely taking it dry from every single conference team on your schedule.

Good times. Good times.

Salt

Its a strong taste, and unhealthy in large doses.

Oh there's no salt here man. Not at all.

Only cherries. As in the hand picked cherries nick saban pulls off your roster.

And here’s a piece of bitter irony for you. That lousy Ed Orgeron will likely pick a couple of those cherries as well.

Didn't know Harvey Updyke had an SBN account

Well he does.

That Associate's Degree from Central Alabama CC is paying off in dividends

Keep fighting the good fight, you brave men, and enjoy the years ahead. Our lives will never be the same after this day.

Well your football team won't be the same, that's for sure.

All that pathetic cheating and so little to show for it.

The ole miss land bear black rebel akbar sharks don’t so much as have a division title to be vacated.

But you know what will be vacated? That’s right Colonel Reb, that pair of alabama wins.

I don't remember ole miss

Letting a bunch of armed robbers play, but stay on that inbred Alabama high horse of yours.

What exactly are you referencing?

And Gumpgasm got himself banned from RBR. You would think he would use that to make common cause with the Ole Miss folks, but ’Gasm is his name and conflict is his game.

Get back to your RBR echo chamber.

You and the rest of those quacking crimson ducks are enamored with the regurgitation of your own words.

It’s a shame too. The writing is good. The discussion forums are a chronic bore.

Then you don't miss us. Good. Feeling's mutual.

Oh I will.

It’s nice up here and you make sure to stay where you belong. Right under that horse’s sac.

Oh and I’m not doing any "inbreeding". When I have sex with my half sister, I only have sex with the half that isn’t my sister.

We’re good.

From funny to sad to creepy

The Bama football convo flow chart aligns perfectly here.

"From funny to sad to creepy".

Just like Hugh freeze.

Don't care 'bout cashing it in. Had Bama-secks...... TWICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"or Auburn this year"

I’ve already decided, even if Auburn doesn’t win the playoff, I’m just going to claim that title for Auburn anyway.

I’m kidding, of course. Who does that, though?

Not alabama.

Auburn?

Tubs says hi

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