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Ole Miss responds to NCAA NOA, imposes double-digit scholarship reduction in football

It's finally out.

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Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

After four months of waiting, we finally get to see what's inside Ole Miss' NCAA notice of allegations. On Friday, Ross Bjork and the athletics department unveiled a university website that includes the 52-page NOA detailing the findings of the NCAA's almost four-year probe into violations by the Rebel football, track and field, and women's basketball programs.

The response acknowledges 28 violations across three sports -- 20 of which were self-reported by Ole Miss -- and detail self-induced personalities that include a postseason ban in women's hoops and a reduction of 11 football scholarships over four years.

How many of the allegations pertain to football?

Of the 28 total allegations, 13 are for football, eight are for track and field and seven are for women's hoops. Of the 13 football allegations, eight are Level I (the most serious), two are Level II and three are Level III. Four of the Level 1s occurred during Hugh Freeze's tenure.

What are the specific football allegations?

For details on each of these, check out the full NOA.

Note: This list combines info from the NOA and the response to provide a complete picture of each allegation. Names in the NOA are blacked out and Ole Miss' response subs in generic titles like Student Athlete No. 1. Using previously confirmed reports and common knowledge, we've figured out that 1) Student Athlete #1 is Laremy Tunsil 2) Family Member #1 is Tunsil's stepdad, Lindsey Miller and 3) Family Member #2 is Tunsil's mom. We'll call them by their names from here on out.

  1. Level I: On multiple occasions, cars were loaned for an impermissible period to two players, including Laremy Tunsil. It's been previously confirmed that Cannon Motors in Oxford was the dealership.
  2. Level II: Ole Miss compliance staff allegedly failed to monitor the loaner car situation. Ole Miss refutes this allegation on the grounds that Laremy Tunsil withheld knowledge from the compliance staff regarding his use of a Nissan Titan loaner car; because he misled Ole Miss, they could not comprehensively self-report the impermissible use of a loaner car.
  3. Level I: A booster allegedly gave $800 cash to Lindsey Miller. In the response, Ole Miss confirmed that Miller's financial records and testimony backed that up.
  4. Level I: A hotel owner in Oxford provided free lodging to Miller and Tunsil's mom for a total of 12 nights. The response confirms that.
  5. Level III: Assistant coach Chris Kiffin let Tunsil crash at his house for two nights, an impermissible benefit the NCAA values at a whopping $33. The response confirms that.
  6. Level II: Kiffin arranged for free meals and lodging for three of Tunsil's family members that were not his parents or legal guardians (including Miller). Ole Miss is asking the NCAA to reduce this violation to Level III offense, on the grounds that Tunsil considered one of the other family members to be his father, even though that wasn't the case biologically or legally. Kiffin either failed to convey this information to Ole Miss staff, or didn't do so in a clear manner. Ole Miss cites some 32 similar cases that resulted in Level III violations.
  7. Level III: Kiffin had an impermissible 10-minute, off-campus conversation with two recruits. The response confirms this.
  8. Level I: On a slew of occasions, a booster provided four recruits with a slew of impermissible benefits: free transportation, free meals, phone bills, clothing, etc. Current assistant coach Maurice Harris was not only aware of this, but helped arrange the benefits for two of the recruits. The response confirms this.
  9. Level III: Someone from the Ole Miss video department filmed recruits wearing Ole Miss gear in the IPF, then showed that video to the recruits and their parents. The reponse confirms this.
  10. Level I: Former Houston Nutt assistants David Saunders and Chris Vaughn allegedly helped rig ACT results for three recruits in 2010. Ole Miss confirmed this after interviewing the recruits and studying their answer sheets, but insists but described the fraud as an isolated incident "carried out by two rogue staff members long‐since separated from the University."
  11. Level I: Saunders, Vaughn and current assistant Derrick Nix allegedly arranged for impermissible housing, meals and transportation in 2010. Ole Miss refutes the claim that Nix was involved and asks the NCAA to reclassify the Saunders and Vaughn violations to Level II.
  12. Level I: Vaughn allegedly lied to NCAA investigators in 2013. Ole Miss insists that since Vaughn was no longer on staff at the time, they can't be held responsible for his actions.
  13. Level I: Saunders allegedly lied to NCAA investigators in 2013 and 2014. Again, Ole Miss says its not responsible for what Saunders did after he was fired.

What are the punishments?

We're still a long way off from learning the official punishments handed down by the NCAA. This from The Clarion-Ledger on next steps:

After Ole Miss submits its response, the notice of allegations and the school's response to it are combined into one document that is presented to the committee on infractions, a 60-day process.

A hearing would then likely take a few weeks to be scheduled. The committee on infractions would then present its ruling about six weeks after the hearing.

But Ole Miss is trying to get ahead of the game by enacting several self-imposed measures. Here's the full list, as detailed in the university's response:

The termination of four coaches, including the only two involved head coaches still employed when the violations were discovered; the disassociation of every involved booster; a post‐season ban in women's basketball; a double‐digit reduction of scholarships in the football program; a significant reduction in off‐campus evaluation days and official and unofficial visits in football and track and field; violation‐specific rules education across all involved sports; and a $159,325.00 financial penalty.

The big takeaway from football, of course, is the scholarship reductions. Here's a breakdown of how 11 schollies will be subtracted over the next four seasons.

So is the investigation over?

It would have been but for Tunsil's draft-night hacking nightmare. In its response, Ole Miss asked that the infractions hearing be pushed back while it works with the NCAA on a joint investigation into leaked text conversations in which Tunsil requests money from an Ole Miss assistant AD. The university has since confirmed that the conversation indeed took place (though it left the door open on the screen shots being doctored) and, on the night of the draft, Tunsil himself seemed to confirm that he'd received money from Ole Miss staffers.

The good news is that Tunsil doesn't have to say a damn thing to the NCAA now that he's a pro. The bad news is that if the NCAA can find hard evidence of the rumored transactions, things will get a whole lot worse.

Did Ole Miss make a handy infographic to help me understand the investigation?

It sure did!

NCAA infographic

How'd we get here, again?

The NCAA originally came knocking in 2012 after women's hoops coach Adrian Wiggins was fired for recruiting violations. What began as a probe into the basketball team gradually expanded to track and football. Of particular interest to NCAA investigators was former Houston Nutt assistant David Saunders, who was recently given a show cause for academic fraud violations at his next job with Louisiana-Lafayette.

Last summer, Laremy Tunsil and his estranged stepfather Lindsey Miller got into a fight, with both parties filing then eventually dropping charges against one another. Still, Miller's statements to police and the press mentioned "agents," and the NCAA came calling again. Miller has since filed a defamation suit against Tunsil -- just days before the NFL Draft, no less -- and Hugh Freeze has begged off of sitting for a deposition.

The results of last summer's investigation benched Tunsil for the first seven games of the 2015 season and served to compound and multiply a far-reaching, three-year NCAA investigation. The initial rumblings about recruiting and other improprieties at Ole Miss seem to have ramped up after 2013's ridiculous draft class haul. Along with Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell and Robert Nkemdiche signed with the Rebels that year, leading many outside Oxford to yell about cheating and money.