Ole Miss to reduce scholarships, suspend assistants in wake of 13 NCAA violations
Ole Miss' Notice of Allegations from the NCAA includes 13 violations -- 9 under Hugh Freeze and eight of the most serious level
Ole Miss has finally released the Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, which features 28 total violations by the school's athletic programs, including 13 by the Rebel football program.
Of the 13 violations committed by Ole Miss football, eight were deemed to be Level I violations (the most serious kind), while 9 of the 13 violations occurred under the current tenure of coach Hugh Freeze.
As a response to the allegations, the school plans to self-impose an 11-scholarship reduction in football -- one scholarship from the 2015 class, two from the 2016 class and four from each of the 2017 and 2018 classes.
Ole Miss chancellor Jeffery Vitter and athletic director Ross Bjork released this statement as a response to the report, admitting some wrongdoing.
"The NCAA has alleged, and we agree, that serious violations have occurred. 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")."
Along with a reduction in scholarships, the school has suspended two unnamed assistants from recruiting, fined itself $159,352 and required current staff to go through additional training on NCAA rules and policy.
The NCAA can choose to accept Ole Miss' self-imposed sanctions as its penalty or add sanctions of its own, which could include a number of different punitive measures.
In Ole Miss' response to the Notice of Allegations, the school accepted responsibility for 27 of the 28 allegations but announced that it will fight to have five of them lessened from Level II to Level III allegations.
Three current assistant football coaches were named in the NCAA's Notice of Allegations -- Maurice Harris, Chris Kiffin and Derrick Nix -- as were former assistant Chris Vaughn and former administrative operations coordinator David Saunders.
The 13 allegations brought against the football program by the NCAA were as follows:
- A representative of the institution's athletics interests provided football student-athletes with impermissible extra benefits in the form of complimentary vehicle use and an impermissible loan. Monetary value: $7,495. (Level I)
- The football program failed to monitor the activities of representatives who gave three athletes loaner vehicles and the school's compliance office failed to "adequately inquire into the circumstances surrounding [redacted player's] acquisition and use of the vehicle, including the impact to [redacted player's] eligibility." (Level II)
- A representative of the institution's athletics interests provided a football student athlete with $800 cash in August 2014. (Level I) -- In Ole Miss' response to the NCAA, it referenced that this was $800 paid to "student-athlete 1's stepfather," and earlier mentions of "student-athlete 1" referenced the allegations against Laremy Tunsil that had previously been disclosed, so it can be inferred that this was payment made to Lindsey Miller, Tunsil's stepfather.
- On 12 occasions a representative of the institution's athletics interests provided free lodging to a football student athlete. Monetary value: $2,253. (Level I)
- Assistant Chris Kiffin provided two nights of lodging for a student athlete at his residence. Monetary value: $33. (Level III)
- Kiffin arranged for three family members of a recruit that were not his parents or legal guardians to receive "impermissable recruiting inducements" during his official visit. Monetary value: $1,027. (Level II)
- Kiffin had a 10-minute recruiting conversation with a recruit during an evaluation period. (Level III)
- Four recruits were given "various recruiting inducements" and assistant Maurice Harris arranged for two of the four recruits to receive those inducements. Monetary value: $2,250. (Level I)
- Football program produced and/or played three personalized recruiting videos to numerous then football prospective student-athletes who were visiting. (Level III)
- In 2010, former staffers David Saunders and Chris Vaughn violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when they engaged in fraudulence or misconduct in connection with the ACT exams of three prospective student athletes. The fraudulent exam scores allowed the prospects to satisfy NCAA initial eligibility academic requirements. (Level I)
- Saunders and Vaughn knowingly arranged for impermissable benefits for five recruits and Saunders was involved in making arrangements for a sixth recruit. Monetary value: $1,750. (Level I)
- In 2013, Vaughn communicated with witnesses of an NCAA investigation and provided false or misleading information to the institution and enforcement staff. (Level I)
- In 2013 and 2014, Saunders provided false or misleading information to the institution and enforcement staff. (Level I)
The school has requested that the NCAA Committee on Infractions to remove the hearing from this summer's docket until Ole Miss can complete a joint investigation with the NCAA into the allegations brought against the school regarding the text messages released on Laremy Tunsil's Instagram account on NFL Draft night.
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