Shea Patterson details scope of Ole Miss deception in lengthy letter to Michigan
Patterson explains the ways in which the Rebels misled him about the NCAA investigation
In a detailed filing regarding his transfer case, former Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson tells Michigan officials he was lied to by former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss officials repeatedly over a 20-month period in an attempt to keep him on campus and discredit both media and the NCAA, CBS Sports has learned.
In a scathing nine-page rebuke of Ole Miss to the NCAA, Patterson begins by saying, "I'm not going to hold anything back …"
CBS Sports was allowed to view the document that was part of his transfer appeal package but agreed not to report its details due to the sensitivity of the ongoing case. Patterson's appeal to become immediately eligible at Michigan is now in the hands of the NCAA for a final resolution.
It is now known that Patterson's appeal contains a timeline of allegations asserting that he and his teammates were misled about the scope of the NCAA's investigation into Ole Miss.
Five other former Ole Miss players are expected to file similar appeals, but this is the first time an individual's detailed claims have come to light in the contentious Ole Miss transfer cases.
CBS Sports reported last week that. Ole Miss made what is considered to be a final statement to the NCAA case manager on Tuesday.
In his filing, Patterson said he found "a trustworthy, high-caliber coach" with "values, integrity and leadership qualities" in Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
Patterson stated he began having conversations with his father about transferring in the middle of October 2017. When the NCAA dropped the second year of a bowl ban on Dec. 1 that year, "I knew I'd made the right decision to leave Ole Miss."
Patterson spends most of the document describing, in detail, how he was allegedly misled by Freeze and, at times, athletic director Ross Bjork.
"It doesn't seem fair to me that the only thing standing in the way of Coach Freeze making $5 million a year at another school was the discovery that he wasn't the trustworthy, straight-laced role model that he claimed to be," Patterson states.
Freeze resigned in July after it came to light he had called a Tampa, Florida, escort service.
Patterson's case is based on what his camp says are conflicting statements by Ole Miss. The school has denied making misleading statements to recruits in January 2016 at the same time an NCAA Notice of Allegations detailed wrongdoing in the program.
Media reports and appeal documents contended former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt was to blame for a large part of the wrongdoing at the time. Nutt responded by filing suit against his former employer.
Ole Miss eventually settled a breach of contract and defamation lawsuit brought by Nutt in October, stating, "Certain statements made by University employees in January 2016 appear to have contributed to misleading reports about Coach Nutt. To the extent any statements harmed Coach Nutt's reputation, the University apologizes, as this was not the intent."
In the filing, Patterson states Ole Miss officials "plotted" to keep him and other Rebels recruits in 2016 from finding out about the true scope of the NCAA charges.
Patterson says statements provided to the NCAA by two teammates who also intended to transfer claim Freeze told them in 2016 that any NCAA football violations came before he was coach. Patterson stated those assertions were "unquestionably" not true.
When the initial notice of allegations was released in May 2016, three Level 1 violations had been leveled against the program.
CBS Sports reported last week thatof "egregious behavior" by a football staff member.
Patterson's letter is among the last batch of documentation turned over to the NCAA for a final decision on whether the quarterback will be allowed to play this year.
NCAA rules require a year in residence for athletes transferring in football, baseball, hockey and men's and women's basketball. That is, unless they obtain a waiver.
The statement, received along with other documentation by Michigan on April 9, is included in Patterson's answers to the NCAA case manager's questions. The case manager sent Patterson's answers to Ole Miss on Monday. Per NCAA rules, Ole Miss had 10 business days to respond.
In communications this week, Ole Miss told the NCAA it basically had nothing to add.
"There is nothing new here," Bjork told CBS Sports. "We do not oppose the student-athlete competing right away if the decision is based on accurate information, NCAA bylaws, applicable waiver standards and relevant case precedent."
Patterson's attorney, Tom Mars, concluded, "Therefore, the case is ready to be decided. The timing of the NCAA's decision is a matter of the staff's discretion, so there is no timetable for when a decision will be made. I'm confident, however, that the staff will not take any more time than is necessary to come to the right decision."
Patterson continues to practice with the Wolverines.
As case filings wrapped up, Mars summarized in a memo how he might approach the other Ole Miss waiver requests.
Mars is also assisting receiver Tre Nixon, safety Deontae Anderson, linebacker Jarrion Street, offensive tackle Jack DeFoor and receiver Van Jefferson.
"If Ole Miss follows the path it took in opposing Shea Patterson's right to receive a waiver, whatever baseless objections Ole Miss might invent in opposition to this request should receive no weight at all," Mars said.
A summary of Mars' four-point note:
- Ole Miss engaged in "unlawful subterfuge" to keep secret the contents of the original notice of allegations in January 2016.
- Ole Miss lied to sports media about the scope of the NCAA case that month. Mars said Mississippi journalist Matt Wyatt "received the false narrative directly from Coach [Hugh] Freeze," regarding the notice. Mars' message quotes Wyatt as tweeting in May 2016 that information given to him by Freeze in January 2016 "was false, misleading and intentional."
- Ole Miss never fully explained, in its public apology and admission, how it made "inappropriate" statements about Nutt in settling that lawsuit.
- Those statements are called "completely contradictory" considering wrongdoing was initially blamed on the "former regime" (Nutt) by Ole Miss.
"It is highly unlikely, of course, that Ole Miss will offer a satisfactory explanation for any of these barriers that stand in the way of a credible explanation by Ole Miss for opposing this waiver request," Mars said.
Patterson's appeal is being handled by NCAA case manager Jerry Vaughn, the associate director of academic and membership affairs.
According to a LinkedIn page attributed to a Jerry L. Vaughn Jr., NCAA academic and membership affairs member, he is a former shift leader at Pizza Hut who came to the NCAA in 2013 after being an athletic compliance intern at Daemen College.
Vaughn will not have a direct hand in deciding the case.
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