Ole Miss told the NCAA that quarterback Shea Patterson was not the victim of "egregious behavior" by a football staff member in objecting to Patterson's immediate transfer to Michigan, CBS Sports has learned.
It's clear that staff member is former coach Hugh Freeze. Ole Miss' contention is a reaction to a two-year old amendment to an NCAA bylaw that allows a transferring athlete to be eligible right away if he was "a victim of objective, documented egregious behavior by a staff member …"
According to the amendment, if "the previous institution [Ole Miss] supports the waiver, staff may grant immediate eligibility."
CBS Sports first reported Monday. Whether that sways the NCAA in Patterson's attempt to become eligible this season remains to be seen.
The former Rebels quarterback appealed for a waiver of the usual year-in-residence after he transferred to Michigan in January. CBS Sports reported in detail last month how Patterson and five other former Ole Miss teammates.
Rebels AD Ross Bjork told CBS Sports Tuesday the school would not have objected to Patterson's transfer appeal without a "legitimate reason."
He went on to say the school opposed Patterson's appeal to be immediately eligible at Michigan, "based on the way [appeal] documents were written."
He did not elaborate. Those documents are not public. However, it is known that Patterson's appeal package is essentially based on the contention he was misled by Freeze about the scope of an NCAA investigation when he was being recruited in 2016.
Ironically, at about the same time, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved an amendment to the bylaw regarding transfer "information standards, guidelines and directives."
In February 2016, language was added that said an athlete could transfer immediately if he "was the victim of egregious behavior by the previous institution's staff member … that directly impacts the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete."
Ole Miss is questioning how Patterson's health, safety and well-being was impacted negatively during his two years at the school. Such an appeal must include a "statement of support" from the previous institution.
That language comes from a document used by both Ole Miss and Patterson's representatives updated in November 2017: NCAA Division I Committee for Legislative Relief Information Standards, Guidelines and Directives.
Bjork would not identify the "legitimate reason," only citing case precedent. Each transfer appeal is typically treated as a separate case by the NCAA.
"We would not oppose any waiver of the year-in-residence requirement based on a legitimate reason for any student to transfer from Ole Miss," Bjork said. "We've made that clear in this process. Based on the way the documents were written, we had no choice but to respond the way we were responded."
Patterson's attorney Tom Mars then said, "What [Bjork] is saying is absolutely ludicrous. There is no basis for that anywhere in the rules. It's common knowledge among athletic compliance professionals, Ole Miss … has three options to choose from. They can either object with or without details, support the waiver with or without details or let the 10 days lapse without saying anything."
Ole Miss sent its final response on the Patterson case to the NCAA on March 28, at the end of a 10-day waiting period.
The question has been raised why Ole Miss would object to Patterson's appeal. Former coach Houston Nutt's lawsuit already negatively impacted the program and the school's brand. The school eventually settled Nutt's .
That was after Freeze resigned after phone records revealed he has called an escort service. In December, the NCAA ended a major-infractions case by adding the second year of a bowl ban.
In this case, Ole Miss could have chosen not to comment at all on Patterson's appeal before sending it to the NCAA. Sources have indicated the school defended itself by objecting in case those appeals documents become public detailing Freeze's alleged misdeeds.
Response to any other inquiries, Bjork said, would be a violation of student privacy laws.
"The rest is a Michigan and NCAA matter," he added. "This is not our matter."