Among the myriad revelations contained in Ole Miss' response to the NCAA's notice of allegations are the statements made by one Lindsey Miller, former stepfather of Laremy Tunsil. Miller is currently tied up in a defamation and character-assassination suit against his former stepson as retribution for getting his ass kicked last summer.
In the wake of that dust-up, both Tunsil and Miller filed assault charges against one another and then soon mutually dropped them, but not before Miller -- in sworn testimony -- alleged that the fight broke out over a disagreement about Tunsil speaking with NFL agents. These comments naturally found their way to the press and thence to NCAA offices, which in turn descended upon Oxford with all kinds of questions for Tunsil and Miller.
With Friday's release of the university's response to the NCAA, a colorful portrait emerges of Miller's relationship with an Ole Miss booster and his presence at Tunsil's official visit weekend. Furthermore, the university straight-up admits that, without Miller's statements to Ole Miss and the NCAA, no knowledge of Tunsil's dealing with boosters or agents or whoever would have ever come to light.
Had it not been for this altercation, which resulted in [Lindsey Miller's] decision to disclose his secret dealings in an effort to harm [Laremy Tunsil], it is unlikely that the University or enforcement staff (or [Tunsil]) would have discovered [Miller's] connection to the two boosters.
Just as we suspected all along, Miller sold Tunsil out to anyone who would listen. Six of the 13 football allegations, including three of the eight Level I allegations, seem to come directly out of Miller's collaboration with the NCAA.
Let's take a look.
Lindsey Miller allegedly received $800 in cash from a Rebel booster.
Allegation No. 3, a Level I infraction, charges that "a representative of the institution's athletics interests, provided an impermissible extra benefit in the form of $800 cash to Family Member 1, stepfather to football student‐athlete Student‐Athlete 1." Ole Miss does not dispute this in the least.
On August 22, 2014, Miller -- who is referred to as "Family Member 1" throughout the response letter -- met with a booster, "Individual 7," at the Oxford airport and received a cool $800 cash. Citing a rush of text messages between Miller and the booster in the weeks preceding the exchange, Ole Miss and the NCAA confidently state:
Based on the volume of text messages, there is no question that Individual 7 and Family Member 1 communicated regularly, and several of the text messages may be reasonably read to corroborate Family Member 1’s account. Specifically, on August 18, 2014, Family Member 1 texted Individual 7 requesting that Individual 7 deliver a "package" to him. Individual 7 replied that he and Family Member 1 were "still on" and that he would know more on August 21, 2014. On August 21, 2014, Individual 7 indicated in a series of text messages to Family Member 1 that he was flying his plane to Oxford that day, a fact confirmed by University flight records. The text messages do not provide any explanation for why Individual 7 and Family Member 1 planned to meet or what the "package" contained.
Here, then, is your SEC bagman in action. Once Miller received his stack from the booster, the real fun began. He opened "a Walmart account associated with a prepaid checking card," depositing $500 up front. A review of Miller's bank statements from the time -- yes, he gave the NCAA his bank statements -- showed that Miller did not have sufficient funds there to cover a $500 prepaid account for anything, let alone at the Oxford Walmart. No transactions for $500 flowed out of the account at the time in question, either.
When asked by compliance and enforcement people about his side of the transaction and relationship with Miller, the booster seemed quite flummoxed.
During his interview, Individual 7 denied that he had ever given or wired money to Family Member 1 ... When asked about Family Member 1’s allegation and the text message exchanges, however, Individual 7 was unable to explain the text messages or what the term "package" meant. Individual 7 stated that he did not remember the text message and did not remember ever meeting Family Member 1 on a Thursday.
Who among us wouldn't remember flying to the Oxford airport in a private plane and doling out $800 sterling on the tarmac? Just a run-of-the-mill Thursday in August.
Lindsey Miller and Tunsil's mother received free lodging in Oxford on 12 separate occasions.
Allegation No. 4, also sung from the mouth of Miller to a panel of ravenous compliance people in August 2015, reports that Miller and Tunsil's mother enjoyed free lodging on 12 separate occasions between June 7, 2013 and May 27, 2014. The total monetary amount of these benefits are estimated at $2,253. "Individual 8," who is also described as "a representative of the university's athletics interest" apparently owns a number of hotels and rentals in and around Oxford. Here, too, the mysterious Individual 7 reemerges.
Family Member 1 alleged that on some of these occasions, the hotel room was listed in Individual 7’s name, with Family Member 1 receiving the room key after identifying himself as Individual 7 to someone at the front desk. In support of the allegation, Family Member 1 provided the enforcement staff with Facebook messages between him and Individual 8.
For those keeping score, Miller offered up text messages, Facebook messages, and his bank statements to NCAA and Ole Miss compliance investigators. What a wild interview this must have been.
Lindsey Miller and other extended friends and family members impermissibly accompanied Tunsil on his official visit weekend.
Ever since his family's laundry was aired in the press last summer, Tunsil's mother and her relationships with the men in her life have taken on a sordid, tabloid air. On the weekend of January 25-27, 2013, Tunsil made his official paid visit to Ole Miss, along with a retinue of extended family. Miller, who was at the time Desiree Tunsil's boyfriend, was there, while an unnamed Family Member 3, who had formerly lived with Desiree, also came along. Chris Kiffin -- who featured prominently in Tunsil's recruitment -- understood that Tunsil was estranged from his biological father and instead referred to Family Member 3 as "dad."
Due to confusion on Kiffin's part, or a failure to communicate this complicated arrangement to the right people, Ole Miss ended up footing the bill for the entire Tunsil party that weekend, an NCAA violation.
Although Kiffin ensured that the Family Member 3 and [Miller] were all listed on the official visit form, he failed to adequately detail each person’s specific relationship with Student‐Athlete 1. Specifically, when the University’s former assistant recruiting director in charge of arranging lodging for and collecting payment from guests of prospects on official visits, Branden Wenzel, asked Kiffin about Family Member 3, Kiffin told Wenzel that Family Member 3 was Student‐Athlete 1’s "real dad."
Ole Miss does not dispute that this all happened, but they do dispute whether it should register as a Level II violation. The university's response letter cites 32 similar examples where the NCAA ruled such violations as only Level III.