In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, a lawyer for former Ole Miss assistant coach Barney Farrar claimed the university and its legal counsel conspired to make his client the fall man in its response to NCAA allegations. Attorney Bruse Lloyd claims that “university decision makers decided to lay the blame on Coach Farrar in an attempt to deflect NCAA’s probe from them and offer up Coach Farrar as a sacrifice to curry favor with the NCAA.”
In the public response issued on Tuesday, Ole Miss argued that Farrar acted as a rogue agent while committing alleged violations that include knowingly facilitating large cash payments from boosters to former recruit Leo Lewis, who’s referred to in the response as “Student-Athlete 39.”
“Based upon credible, corroborated witness testimony and other objective evidence,” the response reads, “the university has concluded that former off-field staff member Barney Farrar committed significant violations during his recruitment of [Student-Athlete 39], intentionally hid this misconduct from the university’s compliance staff and his head coach, and used multiple intermediaries in his scheme.”
Establishing that Farrar and various boosters acted on their own accord is critical to supporting Ole Miss’ argument that it’s not guilty of a lack of institutional control, the most damning of the 21 allegations levied by the NCAA. In short, the basis of the university’s entire defense rests on the assertion that Freeze and the athletics administration did everything in their power to prevent violations and should therefore not be held accountable for the actions of those who committed those violations.
Whether Farrar is truly being scapegoated or whether he legitimately undermined his head coach is something we may never know. Farrar’s lawyer insists that the school played his client, that Farrar and Freeze were initially represented by the same law firm (the fees for which were paid by the school) and that Farrar “was led to believe that the university, Coach Freeze and himself would all be working together as a team...” Ole Miss released Farrar in December after the university claims it discovered that he’d lied to school and NCAA investigators.
This isn’t the first time Farrar’s lawyer has leveled claims of scapegoating against his client’s former employer. Late last week, after reading for the first time the briefs prepared by the university’s legal council, Lloyd told Yahoo Sports that Farrar had been “betrayed.”
“Do I think Barney’s been made a scapegoat? Yes,” Lloyd said. “Based on what I’ve seen and know, they set him up. ‘You are the most unsophisticated, the most expendable, and, tag, you’re it.’ But I have to say, I’m his advocate in this.”