Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ole Miss defends Freeze, blames #39 & Farrar

Ole Miss released its response to the NCAA's  2017 amended notice of allegations earlier this week. The NCAA charged Ole Miss with 21 violations that took place from 2010 to 2016.  The university admitted that "significant violations occurred" regarding the conduct of its football program but then patted itself on the back for "taking responsibility" and imposing its own penalties on the football program.  However, Ole Miss fiercely denied it had lost institutional control of the program - the most serious charge made by the NCAA. 

Ole Miss pointed out that it banned itself from post-season games, thus costing approximately $8 million in SEC revenue.  Ole Miss also reduced the number of football scholarships, cut official visits by 20%, barred unofficial visits for three months, kicked several boosters to the curb, and refused to renew the contract of an employee.  Oh yes, don't forget the $179,797 financial penalty (It is not known what those numbers mean if read backwards.).

Make no mistake, the worst allegation made against Ole Miss was that it had lost institutional control of the program.  Ole Miss said it had adequate controls and compliance measures in place and had strengthened them.  Ole Miss said several allegations (9, 12, 14 (e-g), 15, 16 (b-c)) were not supported by the evidence although it admitted that other charges he made were corroborated.*  The university blamed them on the testimony of "student-athlete #39":

These allegations, however, rely almost exclusively on testimony from [Student-Athlete 39], a former University recruit and current [Institution 10] student- athlete, whose testimony was, at best, incomplete and inconsistent. In critical part, [Student-Athlete 39’s] testimony  was  either contradicted  or  not corroborated by  his friends and family  and,  in several instances, refuted by objective facts.
Ole Miss also complained that it was not given sufficient opportunity to cross-examine #39.  #39 is Mississippi State University linebacker Leo Lewis.   Ole Miss also accuses him (p.56) of receiving $10,000 from another school while he claimed he was paid $10,000 from an Ole Miss booster:

Finally, the likelihood that [Student-Athlete 39] received a $10,000 payment from [Booster 14] plus another $10,000 payment from another institution as he claimed in his third interview is significantly undercut by [Student-Athlete 39’s] claimed uses of this money.73 In particular, [Student-Athlete 39] spent $6,885 of the money he received to make a down payment on a Chrysler 300 sedan. FI No. 265 at 118, [Student-Athlete 39] 11/18/16 transcript. In addition to the car down-payment, [Student-Athlete 39] claimed to have provided his mother anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 towards a down payment on a new home for his family. FI No. 232...
 There is no evidence that [Student-Athlete 39] had access to twice that amount ($20,000 – $10,000 from [Booster 14] and $10,000 from another institution), as he claims. To the contrary, [Student-Athlete 39’s] step-father confirms that, after contributing to these two down payments (house and car), [Student-Athlete 39] was unable to make any additional payments on his car note. FI No. 240 at 36-37, [Family Member 8] and [Family Member 9] 10/11/16 transcript. And although [Student-Athlete 39] suggested that he spent a lot of the money on his daughter, his mother’s testimony confirmed that most, if not all, of the items [Student- Athlete 39’s] supposedly purchased were bought by his mother personally and that he was not regularly contributing to those purchases. Id. at 31-32. In other words, after [Student-Athlete 39] spent approximately $10,000, the evidence indicates he was out of money.74

  These charges also mention assistant coach Chris Kiffin and Assistant Athletic Director Barney Farrar.  Ole Miss did not renew Kiffin's contract and fired Farrar.

The NCAA also accused Ole Miss coaches of working with recruits to alter ACT exams.  Ole Miss said that the fraud only occurred in 2010 and did not involve the current coaching administration and that the coaches cited in the allegation are no longer employed. 

 One would think Farrar was the mastermind of this entire scheme after reading the Ole Miss response:

Based upon credible, corroborated witness testimony and other objective evidence, the University  has concluded that former off-field staff member Barney Farrar committed significant violations during his recruitment of [Student-Athlete 39] (Allegations Nos. 14(a)-(d) and (h)-(i), 16(a), 17), intentionally hid this misconduct from the University’s compliance staff and his head coach, and used multiple intermediaries in  his scheme.7 In doing so, Farrar acted contrary to the rules education provided to him by the University (and by other institutions throughout his decades as a Division I football staff member and coach). Farrar purposefully and actively circumvented the
University’s monitoring systems and disregarded his head  coach’s repeated directives. Farrar then follows this misconduct with incomplete and misleading testimony during his December 2016 interview. Because of his actions, Farrar’s employment duties with the University ended December 8, 2016. (p.9)...
 Several of the allegations (specifically, Allegations Nos. 14, 16 and 17, which are re-alleged above as Allegation No. 20-(i)) involve intentional misconduct by Barney Farrar, a  former off-field staff member who lied to Freeze about his conduct and worked hard to conceal his actions from Freeze and the University’s compliance personnel. In one particularly telling example, Freeze  confronted Farrar about the possibility of Farrar using a non-institutional phone to contact prospects. Farrar denied he had done so and committed that he would never do so in the future. Although we now know  Farrar used a private phone to contact prospects, he continuously certified his compliance with the University’s phone policies, and, as at least one recruit ([Student-Athlete 39]) has suggested, Farrar affirmatively hid.... (p.74)

However, Ole Miss strongly defended Head Coach Hugh Freeze:

This case does not involve a head coach who facilitated or participated in violations or otherwise ignored red flags associated with them.8 Freeze developed and implemented a broad, staff-wide compliance program dedicated to satisfying the NCAA’s amended head coach responsibility legislation in early 2013, and he has continuously worked to expand and improve upon that program ever since. Those who have worked under Freeze consistently report his emphasis on compliance, including his direction to promptly involve the University’s compliance staff in their recruiting choices.
and also said there was no lack of institutional control.  Ole Miss even said that its conduct was "exemplary":

the University has made every effort to ensure that the investigation, both on its own and in conjunction with the enforcement staff, has been thorough, comprehensive and exhaustive. To that end, there are multiple examples of the University discovering and developing important pieces of the factual record that the enforcement staff had either not considered or not sought.10 The University’s proactive approach throughout this investigation was lauded in the 2016 and 2017 Notices, with the enforcement staff quoting multiple portions of the exemplary cooperation bylaw in describing the University’s investigative conduct. (p.12 C)
and that there was no culture of non-compliance:

This allegation lumps together several distinct sets of violations without suggesting any real connection among them. In doing so, it works in reverse, inferring that the University’s culture is lacking based solely on the existence of violations. But an institution’s culture is not measured by its failings. Instead, the University’s culture is revealed by how it has approached and corrected the issues it has found over the course of this investigation and by its commitment – as demonstrated by this response – to “get things right.”
The response redacts the names of all boosters cited by the NCAA. 

Notes: The defense of Freeze begins on p.66.  The defense on the lack of institutional control begins on p.78. 

*From earlier post:

B8 was the subject of Allegation #9.  The NCAA alleged that B8 worked with Kiffin and Assistant Athletic Director Barney Farrar, to provide several thousand dollars of merchandise from B8's business to recruits and their family members.   It if further alleged that the two Ole Miss employees directed the players to B8 so they could obtain said merchandise.  These gifts took place between January 2013 and January 2016.

Next up is Booster #6 (B6).  He made the mistake of providing free lodging at a business he owns to family members of Ole Miss student-atheletes.  Allegation #11 charges him with allowing one mother to stay at the (assumed) hotel for free for twelve nights.

Allegation #14 shows the Puppetmaster (sarcasm) at work.  It charges Farrar with arranging more free transportation and hotel rooms for recruits and their family through the use of boosters in the summer of 2014.  Farrar supposedly had Booster #13 (B13) to subsidize transportation for one recruit's visit to football camp.  Booster #12 (B12) paid for another recruit to attend football camp.  B13 provided more transportation, hotel rooms, and meals on other occasions in 2014 (p.14).

Money.  When do we get to some actual pay for play? Allegation #15 delves into that charge.  Booster 10 (B10) allegedly gave cash, food, and drinks to recruits and their families in 2014 and 2015.  The cash payments were allegedly between $100 and $200 to one recruit.

Then there is Booster 14 (B14).  14? How many boosters were involved in this mess? Allegation #16 (almost there, can you tell I'm getting bored?).  B14 illegally contacted one recruit and gave him "$13,000 and $15,600" in cash payments.  B12 apparently worked for B14 and also delivered cash payments to the recruit.  The notices accuses Farrar of knowing these boosters were making payments to the recruit. Ouch. The alleged payments took place in 2014 and 2015. 


Anonymous said...

Supposedly. Athlete #39 wasn't the only one to receive the Golden handshake ($10 to $15,000) from a invested booster. Although the NCAA doesn't have direct evidence of these transactions. The meals and athletic gear are nothing and should not even be a infraction. It's a catch me if you can gameand usually only happens when a school is as blatant as OM. Freeze didn't know only because he didn't want to know just like all other big time coaches.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell cares.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight: The leaders of the University of Mississippi are proclaiming the university’s innocence by explaining how much money an eighteen-year old kid raised in poverty spent on a car and on his momma’s house? “Why that boy’s just too poor to have been paid twice.” This is pathetic. Just plain pathetic

Anonymous said...

It's really sad that an institution of the State of Mississippi continues to lie about who is to blame for all the cheating that has taken place in their football program. They continue to put out lies for talking points and turn their blame on an 18 yr old and rival coach. They fail to remember all the #1 recruits they bought from major Power 5 football schools and the top coaches they pissed off with these cash and car payments. They can point the finger all they want, but the NCAA doesn't write it in an NOA unless they already have the evidence to prove their charge. Be stupid all you want Ole Miss and it's fans. The hammer is coming and it's coming hard and Freezus will get a show cause that will put him out of a job for quiet some time at the college level. CLAIMING to be a man of God and turning your head and allowing your assistant coaches and boosters to cheat at a level that is so blatant is just not what a Christian would do. You run from the camera and questions about the investigation like a scared cat. It's over Hugh, it's over and you will go down as the coach who allowed cheating at a level we haven't seen in 30 years.

Anonymous said...

The Ole Miss mistake was to have too many people involved. And then you have the rebel rags guy who runs his mouth like a faucet every time you walk into his store. If you can't cheat any better than that you deserve to get caught.

Anonymous said...

The purposes of colleges and universities are to educate and provide guidance in honesty and integrity. You can't do these jobs if those in power don't practice what they teach (coach). I know Ole Miss has expelled many students for violating these goals. I think a good place to start is at the top. The top also includes the chancellor.

Anonymous said...

NCAA sanctions. so what. is this really that important? this is the ultimate issue of concern for pathetic , fatass SEC fans who spend their entire lives wishing they were back at the frat house.

Anonymous said...

"It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall."

Anonymous said...

If your school participates in major college sports, it's neck-deep in the same cesspool. Spare me the sanctimony.

Anonymous said...

@4:21 The ole miss defense. "Everyone's doing it."

Anonymous said...

@4:03. You only touch the tip of the "sinking" iceberg:

1. Everyone's doing it
2. Can't trust a student of another school; he's lying, not us.
3. MSU caused this, they ratted on us
4. All the bad stuff happened under Nutt
5. It wasn't much money
6. Couple of rouge employees, nobody thats important
7. We've cooperated, told them everything, hidden nothing (except what the rouges lied about, but that doesn't count)
8. We'll give up a bowl game we aren't going to get offered anyway
9. We'll give up some scholarships, because with the loss of boosters we've had to kick out, we can't pay them anyway.
10. Scholarship numbers really don't matter cause who'll want to come here if we can't pay the Tunsil rates
11. Only reason they came after us was because we beat Alabama; nobody can touch Alabama. They are really the ones that caused this pain, not MSU cause they don't amount to anything

Anonymous said...

@8:10, you forgot one:

12. Coach Freeze is a Christian who does things the right way and he is being persecuted by jealous, heathen evildoers.

Anonymous said...

Lewis actually admits in testimony to receiving $10,000 from another University referred to as University 10. No I munity for that. He will not be playing this fall. Besides, evidence has already been turned over to NCAA of Lewis accepting payment from another University. OM has blown apart the testimony of both MSU athletes. OM should take back the self imposed bowl ban. There is no pay for play. Abso!utely none.

I Sell Bongs By The Seashore said...

9:36 - Messing around with ACT scores alone is reason enough to ban two seasons from bowls and reduce scholarships. Couple that with booster activities and you have a show cause for total lack of control.

Anonymous said...

9:36 That guy was fired discovered and fired within a few months. Besides, OM players were not the only SEC players he helped get qualified. Look at ULL penalties for him helping get more players qualified than this and he also paid one player thousands to sign. This was far more serious than OM. Remember, those living in a glass houses shouldn't throw rocks.

Anonymous said...

"Lewis actually admits in testimony....."

Really? "Testimony"?

Anonymous said...

Love how you OM homers can only latch on to one of the allegations. That's because you know you are up sh*t creek on the other ones. The academic allegations that no one seems to talk about should be the most worrisome ones to you guys.

Anonymous said...

Remember, Ms. State was picked for the last bowl game due to superior academic performance by their athletes. Remember, there weren't enough victories (6) to qualify. That may explain the shortfalls of altering ACT scores at U of Ms. By the way, what is required to be anointed a "chancellor?

Anonymous said...

Ole Miss athletic director Bjork should be held responsible. He turned a blind eye as well. These kids being "persuaded" to play football at Ole Miss sold a lot of tickets and t-shirts for Ole Miss. The athletic director had to know what was going on. But those dollar signs make everything better!?

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