Well, it’s finally over. The punishment from the NCAA has finally been handed down from Indianapolis. SB Nation’s senior reporter Steven Godfrey is reporting that Ole Miss will be hit with a second bowl ban for 2018, even more scholarship restrictions, and show causes for every coach involved in the notice of allegations.
Its about as hard a blow as could be imagined.
Here’s a more detailed rundown of the penalties, according to Godfrey:
- an additional bowl-ban year (2018).
- probation running concurrently with current probation for a total of four years.
- financial penalties.
- a total scholarship reduction of 13 over a period of four years.
- every coach named in the NCAA’s investigation has received a show-cause (essentially an NCAA blackball for a period of time). That doesn’t include new head coach Matt Luke, who wasn’t named. Former assistant David Saunders’ show-cause runs for eight years. Former staffer Barney Farrar faces five.
Oh and ya know how we all thought the NCAA was out to bury Hugh Freeze?
Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze received a one-year show cause and two-game suspension from the NCAA, but only for head coaching positions. If he takes a coordinator or assistant’s job, there would be no restrictions, sources told ESPN. https://t.co/DWzNwTKizH— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) December 1, 2017
If you’re following along, former defensive assistant Chris Kiffin gets a two-year show cause for letting Laremy Tunsil crash on his couch, while Freeze can be hired as a coordinator tomorrow.
That leniencey probably had something to do with this admission:
The NCAA press release will say that Hugh Freeze and Jeffery Vitter admitted that the #OleMiss booster culture was “craziness” and “disturbingly questionable."— Chase Parham (@RivalsChase) December 1, 2017
Ole Miss went in front of the Committee on Infractions during week three of the 2017 football season regarding the already known allegations, 15 of which were Level I violations (the worst you can get). The school self-imposed sanctions earlier this year, but AD Ross Bjork and Ole Miss fully expected more to be tacked on following the conclusion of the investigation. To give you an idea of what this has cost the Rebels financially, SB Nation’s Richard Johnson reported earlier this year that this entire shit storm around Oxford and the football program has already cost them more than $9 million.
SB Nation’s senior reporter Steven Godfrey released his version of what happened at the Committee on Infractions meeting Thursday afternoon and it was pretty damning for both parties. That included a report that Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis, who served as the NCAA’s star witness against the Rebels, admitted taking $10,000 apiece from both Ole Miss and State. That same day saw the release of long-rumored audio of Lewis’ mother acknowledging that State and LSU offered her son tens of thousands of dollars.
This is just the latest, and hopefully last, twist in a investigation with roots back to June 2010 when Chris Vaughn and David Saunders were caught tampering with ACT answers. The current freshman class was entering the sixth grade when the investigation began, and, after the latest hullabaloo with Leo Lewis, Ole Miss has reached the end of the years long investigation.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions did its best to clean up the mess made by their investigators in this case. The first Notice of Allegations included many infractions backed by reliable evidence and backed up by Ole Miss’ insistence on cooperating with the NCAA throughout the entire process.
Laremy Tunsil’s 2016 NFL draft allowed the investigators another shot at taking down former head coach Hugh Freeze. Unable to find more allegations, the NCAA turned to a rival school and prized recruit Leo Lewis. The investigation followed a downward spiral for all parties involved. Uncertainty reigned in Oxford and brought recruiting to nearly a halt.
The NCAA used the biggest weapon in their arsenal, limited immunity, to get people to go on record in their case. And Leo Lewis told his story, as did current teammate Kobe Jones and current Auburn offensive lineman Austin Golson.
With the NCAA investigation now in the rear view mirror, Matt Luke has a lot of work left to be done. The Rebels’ image is damaged and the roster could potentially be damaged by transfers and decommitments. Scholarship limits tend to magnify recruiting hits and misses.
Quick note: #OleMiss is being given three additional scholarships reduced. It’s a 13 total after UM proposed 10. Rebs proposed 4 for this upcoming class. It’s going to be 6.— Chase Parham (@RivalsChase) December 1, 2017
So, Ole Miss will need to quickly fill the 2018 class with whatever it can and begin working on the 2019 class—one which may be the best in Mississippi’s history. Currently, there are 11 four-stars in the Magnolia State and some might even be bumped up to five-star status with strong senior campaigns.
Despite the overwhelmingly bad outcome, Rebel fans can at least be relieved that the investigation is finally over.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We will update this post further when we get more information. As you can imagine, more details will be trickling out throughout the day.