Ole Miss football announces one-year postseason ban following ne - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

BREAKING

Ole Miss football announces one-year postseason ban following new NCAA violations

(Source: Austin McAfee) (Source: Austin McAfee)
OXFORD, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The University of Mississippi has announced the NCAA's has completed their investigation and the school has received a notice of allegations. 

In a YouTube video released by the university, Chancellor Jeffery Vitter, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Ross Bjork and Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze outlined the violations. 

Ole Miss has instituted a one-year postseason ban 

As part of this postseason ban, under SEC rules, the school must forfeit their annual portion of SEC postseason football revenue for next year, expected to be approximately $7.8 million. 

A full transcript of the video can be found here

Ole Miss received its original notice of allegations on January 30 2016. There were 13 violations tied to the football program. Four were tied to former coach Houston Nutt, while the rest occurred under Hugh Freeze.

The new notice of allegations includes 21 football infractions – eight of which are new, and one allegation from the prior notice that has been expanded. None of the new allegations relate to NFL Draft night.

The allegations include seven Level I violations which are defined by the NCAA as "violations that seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws, including any violation that provides or is intended to provide a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, or a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit."

Along with two Level III violations which are defined by the NCAA as "violations that are isolated or limited in nature; provide no more than a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage; and do not include more than a minimal impermissible benefit. Multiple Level IV violations may collectively be considered a breach of conduct."

The university agrees that there are three allegations where there is credible and persuasive evidence to support the allegation.

  • The first allegation – it is alleged that a prospective student-athlete (Prospective Student-Athlete A) went hunting near campus on private land owned by a booster during his official visit in 2013 and on two or three occasions after he enrolled, and that the access to this land was arranged by the football program. This has been alleged as a Level III violation.
  • The second allegation – it is alleged that between March 2014 and January 2015, a former staff member (Former Staff Member A) impermissibly arranged for recruiting inducements in the form of lodging and transportation for one prospective student-athlete (Prospective Student-Athlete B) (who enrolled at another institution) and his companions on several visits to campus and for the impermissible transportation of another prospective student-athlete (Prospective Student-Athlete C) on one occasion. The total value of the lodging and/or transportation between the two prospective student-athletes is alleged to be $2,272. It is also alleged that the football program provided approximately $235 in free meals to Prospective Student-Athlete B (who enrolled at another institution) and Prospective Student-Athlete C and the friends of Prospective Student-Athlete B during recruiting visits in this same time frame. The allegation is alleged as a Level I violation.
  • The third allegation, it is alleged that Former Staff Member A violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly committed NCAA recruiting violations between March 2014 and February 2015 and when he knowingly provided false or misleading information to the institution and enforcement staff in 2016. This is charged as a Level I violation.

The university agrees that there is evidence to support some, but not all, of the events alleged in the fourth violation. 

  • In the fourth allegation, it is alleged that between April 2014 and February 2015, Former Staff Member A initiated and facilitated two boosters having impermissible contact with Prospective Student-Athlete B (who enrolled at another institution). It is further alleged that these two boosters provided Prospective Student-Athlete B (who enrolled at another institution) with impermissible cash payments during that time frame and that Former Staff Member A knew about the cash payments. The value of the alleged inducements according to the NCAA is between $13,000 and $15,600. This is charged as a Level I violation.

The university believes there is sufficient credible and persuasive evidence to conclude that the impermissible contact outlined in the fourth allegation occurred. The school is still evaluating whether there is sufficient credible and persuasive evidence to support the alleged payments and will make that determination over the course of the next 90 days.

The school will contest the following allegations in full. 

  • Allegation number five – It is alleged that one former staff member (Former Staff Member B) arranged for a friend of the family of Prospective Student-Athlete D to receive impermissible merchandise from a store owned by a booster on one occasion in 2013 and that Former Staff Member A arranged for Prospective Student-Athletes B and E (both student-athletes enrolled at another institution) to receive merchandise in 2014, 15, and 16. The value of the alleged impermissible recruiting inducements is approximately $2,800 and is charged as a Level I violation.
  • Number six – It is alleged and we will contest that, in 2014 a current football coach had impermissible, in-person, off-campus contact with Prospective Student-Athlete B (who enrolled at another institution). This allegation is charged as a Level III violation.
  • Allegation seven – It is alleged that a booster provided money, food and drinks to Prospective Student-Athlete B (who enrolled at another institution) and his companions at the booster’s restaurant on two-to-three unspecified dates between March 2014 and January 2015.   The value of the alleged inducements is between $200 and $600. This allegation is charged as a Level I violation that we will contest.
  • Another Allegation that we will contest is number eight – It is alleged that the head football coach violated head coach responsibility legislation. This allegation is not based upon personal involvement in violations by Coach Freeze but because he is presumed responsible for the allegation involving his staff that occurred between October 2012 and January 2016. Although we disagree, according to the NCAA, Coach Freeze has not rebutted the presumption that he is responsible for his staff’s actions. This is charged as a Level I violation.
  • Finally, allegation nine – It is alleged that the scope and nature of the violations demonstrate that the university lacked institutional control and failed to monitor the conduct and administration of its athletics program.  This charge replaces the more limited failure to monitor charge in the January 2016 Notice of Allegations.  This is charged as a Level I violation that we will contest. 

The decision to add the postseason ban was a joint decision by Chancellor Vitter and Ross Bjork and supported by Coach Freeze.

The NCAA can accept the school's self-imposed penalties, or they can impose more. The university has 90 day to issue a response. The NCAA then has 60 days for a rebuttal and then a Committee on Infractions hearing will be scheduled. 

The committee will have six weeks to deliver a final verdict. 

Bjork said the team was told of the ban Wednesday and “as you might imagine, this was difficult news to share with our young men and coaches.”

“I feel terrible for our players and staff who have to handle the consequences of the actions of a very few,” Freeze said in the video. “Unfortunately, these penalties are necessary so that this program to be responsible and move forward.”

Ole Miss has been charged with a lack of institutional control and Coach Hugh Freeze has been charged with violating head coach responsibility legislation. 

“From the moment I arrived in December 2011, I have emphasized to all of my staff that our program is founded on certain core values – faith, attitude, mental toughness, integrity and love," said Freeze. "I am extremely disappointed to learn that any member of my staff violated any SEC or NCAA rules, and as the head coach, I regret those actions.”

We will continue to update this story. 

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