Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Houston Nutt sues Ole Miss, accuses Freeze of smearing him.

Former Ole Miss Head Football Coach Houston Nutt sued the university, IHL, and the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation today in U.S. District Court in Oxford for breach of contract.  However, the lawsuit focuses on alleged defamation of the former head coach by Ole Miss.  Mr. Nutt also accused Head Football Coach Freeze of smearing him through "off the record" conversations with journalists.  


Nutt charged Ole Miss tried to place most of othe blame for its NCAA problems on him when the opposite was true in reality:

14.   On January 30, 2016, in its first public statement since receiving the NOA, Ole Miss posted a statement online by AD Bjork, which included the following language: “ . . . and in football, with many of the allegations dating back to the former football staff in 2010 and the withholding and reinstatement process around Laremy Tunsil in fall of 2015.” (emphasis added). AD Bjork and other members of the Ole Miss Control Group approved the foregoing statement in advance knowing that the statement was false and misleading.

15. Based on further investigation conducted in 2016, the NCAA  prepared  and  delivered a 30-page amended NOA to Chancellor Vitter in early February 2017. The amended NOA, a copy of which appears on the official Ole Miss website, contains 48 references to “Freeze.” Houston Nutt’s name does not appear anywhere in this 30-page document.
16. Consistent with the tactics it used to prevent journalists from seeing the first NOA, Ole Miss declined multiple FOI requests for the amended NOA and did not release it to the public
until the University submitted its response in early June 2017...

The complaint then directs its fire towards the Mr. Bjork and Coach Freeze:

 19.... For instance, AD Bjork knew or was reckless in not knowing that between January 21 and 31, 2016, Coach Freeze had initiated one-on-one conversations with numerous sports journalists1 and at least four highly-rated recruiting prospects and that those conversations violated various policies of the NCAA, SEC, and the University, including the NCAA’s rules on confidentiality.

20. AD Bjork further knew that in each of the conversations referenced above, Coach Freeze had knowingly lied to the journalists and recruiting prospects by saying that the NCAA’s investigation had little, if anything, to do with him or his coaching staff and was instead focused on alleged rules violations by Coach Nutt’s staff. In some of these conversations, Coach Freeze falsely stated that most, if not all, of the NCAA’s allegations involved “Houston Nutt” and his staff. At the time Coach Freeze made these statements, he was fully aware that they were patently false, yet he continued to make such statements, severely damaging Coach Nutt’s reputation.

21. Of the 13 allegations in the initial NOA involving the football program, only two of them allegedly occurred when Houston Nutt was the head football coach....
Thus, even if one could interpret the NOA to mean that four of the alleged violations occurred when Coach Nutt was at Ole Miss (which is undeniably false), 69% of the allegations in the NOA would have still occurred on Coach Freeze’s watch. Not including the 2013-14 allegations (which would be two years after Coach Nutt left Ole Miss), roughly 85% of the allegations violations occurred while Coach Freeze was the head coach.....
 28. Determined to deflect and delay the potential  damage  from  the  NCAA investigation,  and  with  the knowledge and  tacit  approval  of certain  members of the Ole Miss Control Group, Coach Freeze, AD Bjork, and Campbell reached an agreement in 2014 to carry out a carefully orchestrated misinformation campaign, the specific purpose of which was to mislead the media, Ole Miss boosters, and potential recruiting prospects about the true nature of the matters that were being investigated by the NCAA.
29. This deceitful strategy involved having Coach Freeze, AD Bjork,  and  other  members of the Ole Miss Athletics Department tell sports journalists “off the record” that the “majority,” “most,” or “almost all” of the NCAA’s allegations were aimed at Coach Nutt and his staff and that the NCAA’s charges had little, if anything, to do with Coach Freeze. As further alleged below, Coach Freeze personally carried out this part of the strategy at various times from 2014 to 2017, reaching new heights when Coach Freeze courted the entire 2016 recruiting class under false and misleading pretenses.
The complaint also accuses Ole Miss of launching a pre-emptive strike of sorts through the national media by manipulating a reporter:

30. On October 2, 2014, citing multiple unnamed sources, a nationally-known sports journalist, referred to herein as Journalist #1, broke the story about the scope of the NCAA’s investigation of Ole Miss. In this news story, Journalist #1 wrote that one source “with knowledge of the probe” said “the current football staff of head coach Hugh Freeze is not believed to be implicated in any major violations, and that much of the football inquiry dates back to actions by a previous Ole Miss staff.”2 It is now clear that Journalist # 1’s unnamed sources gave him false and misleading information. The sources who lied to Journalist #1 before he wrote this story did so for the purpose of creating a false public narrative that would deflect the heat created by the NCAA investigation from Coach Freeze to Coach Nutt.
The lawsuit is probably referring to Yahoo Sports.  Yahoo Sports published on October 2, 2014:

The University of Mississippi athletic program is under investigation by the NCAA for potential rules violations in multiple sports.

Athletic director Ross Bjork confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that Ole Miss “is working with the NCAA” in an ongoing investigation. Bjork said the school has not received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, nor does it have a date set for a hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. He declined further comment.

Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports the Mississippi football and women’s basketball programs are subjects of the investigation. One source with knowledge of the probe said the bulk of the potential violations relate to women’s basketball. The source said the current football staff of head coach Hugh Freeze is not believed to be implicated in any major violations, and that much of the football inquiry dates back to actions by a previous Ole Miss staff. Freeze is in his third year at the school. The source said there have been no new allegations, all NCAA interviews have completed and the school is waiting for the NCAA Department of Enforcement's next step. Rest of article.
Ole Miss also stands accused of  resisting public records requests:

32. The other key component of the University’s false and misleading PR scheme involved Ole Miss going to great lengths to resist the predictable public records requests from journalists who were seeking to discover the details of the NCAA’s investigation. In several instances between 2014 and 2017, the University’s “deny/delay/distract” approach to handling public records requests on this topic was evidenced by their assertions of various exemptions and redactions that were for the most part based on unprecedented and/or specious legal positions, the University’s self-serving view of public policy, and other clear departures from the letter and spirit of the Mississippi Public Records Act. Ole Miss’s wrongful refusal to disclose the NOA until May 27, 2016 was a crucial component of its strategy to protect its head football coach at all costs knowing full well that its deceptive communications would do immeasurable damage to Coach Nutt’s reputation. (Note: JJ has filed a public records complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission on this very issue.)
Mr. Nutt then engages in a bit of psychoanalysis of Coach Freeze:

33. It is common knowledge among sports journalists that Coach Freeze does not take kindly to criticism. Since the moment the NCAA investigation was first made public, Coach Freeze has distinguished  himself  from  other  Division  head  football  coaches  by:  (a)  consistently exhibiting behaviors that are massively defensive; (b) going to extraordinary lengths through social media and otherwise to promote his self-image as a deeply spiritual Godly man who’s done nothing wrong and is being persecuted; and (c) attempting to cultivate personal relationships with sports journalists for the purpose of promoting his self-image through positive news stories (Hugh knew?) and, as further alleged below, exploiting their trust and deliberately misleading them into tweeting and  writing news stories that furthered Coach Freeze’s agenda. These personal characteristics contributed to Coach Freeze’s decision to play the leading role in the self-serving smear campaign that foreseeably damaged Coach Nutt’s reputation.

Wow.  However, Mr. Nutt claims more journalists were involved in this alleged scheme:

 40. In a 12-minute telephone conversation that Coach Freeze initiated with Journalist #2 beginning at 2:18 p.m. on January 21, 2016, Coach Freeze told the journalist a version of the false narrative. The following week, Journalist #2 tweeted: “Source: Majority of alleged football violations at Ole Miss tied to Saunders/Academics/previous staff, not current coaching staff.” Shortly thereafter, the bold-face text used in this message was reinforced when a large photograph of Houston Nutt was posted beneath the original tweet. The false narrative Journalist #2 tweeted was re-tweeted 183 times. 
The journalist was Matt Wyatt:


But wait, there is a #3:

 41. In a 7-minute telephone conversation that Coach Freeze initiated with Journalist #3 beginning at 5:24 p.m. on January 21, 2016, Coach Freeze told the journalist a version of the false narrative. The following week, Journalist #3 tweeted: “The other football-related stuff dates back to  the Houston  Nutt  era.  Hearing that  stuff is  six  years old.”
Then there is the big one: ESPN:
  Later that afternoon, Journalist #6 posted a story that strongly reinforced the false narrative and quoted a source who had talked to his ESPN colleague (Journalist #7). The story said:
"Allegations connected to Mississippi's football team largely derived from the 2008-11 tenure of Houston Nutt, sources said. Freeze was named the Rebels' coach in December 2011
"Sources told ESPN.com that the new football violations in the NCAA's report centered primarily on the Tunsil case.

"This is a fraction involving our current football staff," a source told ESPN's [Journalist #9]. "Some of those things we've already self- imposed some penalties around and already dealt  with. This just happens to be part of a broader process.
" (emphasis added)"

More journalists and examples of supposed manipulation are cited in the complaint that are variations of the same theme.  Coach Freeze repeatedly spoke to journalists off of the record who in turn reported the information he gave them through various outlets such as news reports and social media.  The reporters included those who work for the AP and other national media outlets.  The complaint claims Mr. Bjork participated in this media manipulation as well.  Mr. Nutt called the resulting media coverage that placed most of the blame for the NCAA allegations on him a  "Category 5 media storm."

Mr. Nutt sued for breach of contract and breach of duty and good faith dealing.  He asked for actual and punitive damages.  He is represented by Little Rock attorney Thomas Mars and Ridgeland attorney Walter Morrison.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers and referred to Magistrate Judge Roy Percy.



38 comments:

Anonymous said...

1. I want Ole Miss to counter-sue and get his buyout back so that it can be prorated among 2010 & 2011 season ticket holders.

2. The worst stuff that Ole Miss is accused of DID happen under Nutt. Academic Fraud >>>>> 2 Nights on a Sofa.

3. Nutt's psychoanalysis of Freeze is pure gold. The Pot is Laughing at the Kettle.

Anonymous said...

This circus just added yet another ring!

Anonymous said...

Good luck proving damages, Houston Dale.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I had completely forgotten about Houston Nutt! I never considered him defamed in any way, I think his record speaks for itself and is the biggest blot on his name.

Bill Dees said...

What 1:57 said. Plus, isn't there a one year statute of limitations for defamation claims?

Anonymous said...

He defamed himself with his last two years performance

Anonymous said...

Can you sue Ole Miss and IHL in federal court? 11th Amendment???

Anonymous said...

Paragraph 33 of the complaint is about as awesome as anything I have ever read in a legal document, with the recent exception, perhaps, of "tumescent penis." It is, however, not lost on me that both Paragraph 33 of Nutt's broadside and a discernibly turgid fun-pole could be referring to Danny Hugh Freeze.

Anonymous said...

Confirmed.... definitely a dumpster fire now

Anonymous said...

Why does Ole Miss keep dragging this thing out? It is because Freeze does not want it ended. When it is finally ended, he will be without a job (paycheck). He is making $13,600.00 plus EACH day. I would do the same thing. We are not the only NCAA school with a law school. I am afraid the NCAA has access to some pretty good ones also. He is playing us like a fiddle and I am a little tired of it.

Anonymous said...

Nutt was in the heppin' business.

Anonymous said...

KF, have you considered updating your comment system, maybe to Disqus, to allow pictures and GIFs?

Per an earlier comment, I think the conversation here would be so much richer with a few flaming dumpsters, etc.

Anonymous said...

Who effing cares? Aren't there more important things to worry about than a spoiled, overpaid asshole getting his feelings hurt?

Anonymous said...

Which spoiled,overpaid asshole are you referring to? There are a lot to choose from in todays
news.

Anonymous said...

Aren't all these coaches spoiled and overpaid?

Anonymous said...

Didnt Billy Brewer sue his former employer as well?

Anonymous said...

College is already ridiculously expensive and the law schools are churning out lawyers who can't find work. Then we have the football coaches and staff. Making more money than anyone else at the college and more than all but a few of the graduates. That right there should tell you the value of college.

Oh Holy One... said...

The Freeze Faithful come out of the woodwork again. Jim Jones purple Kool Aid Crowd.

Good grief what a cluster said...

Journalist #3 - Neal McCready. Ole Miss alum who'll tell you all day long he's NOT A FAN and ONLY CARES ABOUT THE CUBS AND THE OKC THUNDER.

Probably as thin-skinned as Freeze. And thinks the majority of his subscribers to Rebel Grove are idiots.

Anonymous said...

Say what you will but this was well played, the day before Hugh goes to SEC Media days with all these questions.

Anonymous said...

another soap opera for the beautiful people of the SEC. remember, while you beautiful people are busy obsessing over this pile of chicken manure the mortgage is not getting paid and your kid is not getting raised. time for all you 35 to 60 year olds to realize you are not in college anymore.

Anonymous said...

Do you get an honorary key board law degree when attending Ole Miss or just being a fan of the Lafayette County Rebels? Asking for a friend that lives in the suburb of Oxford, Batesville Extended.

Anonymous said...

8:29 is harsh, but spot on.

I know a guy who lost his job because of his obsession with college football. Ended up losing his house and almost lost his wife and family over it.

Its an enjoyable hobby, but if your mood is affected by all of this, or a win or loss by some college kids on a Saturday afternoon, you need to take another look at your priorities. If you are taking money out of your family's bank account to pay players, you are insane.

Anonymous said...

Been attending UM football games for 50 seasons. Nutt's final two seasons, 2010 and 2011 were the most pathetic in half a century.

That 52-3 ass whipping by LSU (take a knee) in Oxford is what I think of
Nutt's lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

I remember one of my slow-witted Razorback relatives (they all are) saying,"You better hope Nutt doesn't do for your school what he did for mine." Boy, was he right for once (just once).

Anonymous said...

After reading this, it seems as if folks in our state are more concerned about the state of college football in Mississippi and who wins the Egg Bowl, than improving the Mississippi economy.

Houston Takes It To The Bank said...

Say what you will, detractors, but, the man certainly has a good defamation case, like him or not. And the school will settle as soon as they finish erasing Confederate history and putting Bdork on a Greyhound.

Anonymous said...

So, 10:35, what do you think of the UM administration and Freeze consistently lying about this investigation throughout the whole process?

How does Bjork justify canning the women's bball coach but keeping Freeze?

"Although there is no current evidence that Coach Wiggins was complicit in or had direct knowledge of this misconduct, as head coach, he is accountable for the actions of those who report to him." -Bjork

http://www.olemisssports.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/102012aab.html

really bad look and probably means that Freeze/Bjork/UM deserve everything coming for them and then some. If I'm Wiggins, I'm asking UM why the double standard...

Anonymous said...

2;08... your big talk about defamation is total BS. listen up you pretty people. free speech has been so broadened over the past 50 years no one has won any money damages in a defamation suit since truman was in the white house. punk ass crybaby SEC coaches and fans. grow up.

Anonymous said...

He lost 16 of his last 17 SEC games. He lost to Jacksonville State and one of the Louisiana directional schools. More than half of the players were on target to be ineligible when he left. The most serious violations against OM came under his time. Other than Nutt's violations, the rest of the allegations are a big nothing burger after the Rebel Rags and #39 accusations are tossed due to evidence to the contrary. He should pay OM money.

Anonymous said...

No rebels want to address 2:15? Funny...

Anonymous said...

to 5;16 pm you aa classic bedwetter whiner sec pretty boy. go get a life. since you know so much about this topic maybe you can think of a way to have every pre- sean peyton head coach pay back their salary to the saints

Anonymous said...

when it comes down to chicken shit, SEC coaches and fans win the prize. enjoy yourselves.

Anonymous said...

8:57 So says... behind their insecure and nervous little being.

Anonymous said...

LSU guy here, it is sad, pathetic, and at the same time hilarious, to see what a mess little old Ole Miss has made of things.

All because they wanted to run with the big boys.

Now they are going to get hammered.

Anonymous said...

'The most serious violations against OM came under his (Nutt's) time.

Can you believe there are still some out there who believe that? And they hang out in the grove.

Kernel Reb said...

Bully. Bellard. Bone. Bowl.

Anonymous said...

Nutt's W-L record is not the issue here, so why mumble about it? Freeze referring to Nutt as a cheater and the basis for these problems is totally unrelated to on-field success. Buckmaster-Freeze needs to be taught a lesson. And will be.

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