Monday, November 5, 2018

NCAA Overturns Part of Ole Miss Sanctions

Standing up to fight means sometimes a few battles will be won.  Ole Miss won a battle last week when the NCAA withdrew "the most onerous sanction" levied against the football program earlier last year.  The NCAA imposed sanctions that  included a post-season ban, reduction in scholarships, and a limit on unofficial visits.  Ole Miss still can't go to a bowl game this year but the NCAA overturned the unofficial visits restriction.  Unfortunately for Ole Miss, the NCAA refused to withdraw the finding that of a lack of institutional control.  Ole Miss issued the following statement about the NCAA's decision:

Today, the NCAA released the Infractions Appeals Committee (IAC) decision, bringing the nearly six-year process to an end. The university prevailed in its appeal of the most onerous sanction, the penalty restricting unofficial visits. According to the IAC, “the Committee on Infractions (COI) abused its discretion when prescribing penalty VII.5.c [unofficial visit restrictions] in that it was based in significant part on one or more irrelevant or improper factors.” The IAC overturned the penalty entirely, clearing the way for the football program to move forward and continue recruiting at a high level.

While we are pleased by the IAC’s finding that the COI abused its discretion with respect to the unofficial visit penalty, we remain disappointed by the remainder of the ruling, which upheld a 2018 postseason ban and findings of lack of institutional control and recruiting inducements.

As the recent Commission on College Basketball (Rice Commission) report outlined, the NCAA enforcement model is “broken” and ill-equipped to handle complex cases, and we believe our case was adversely impacted because of it. In the early part of the investigation, our cooperation with the enforcement staff allowed us to contain the case to allegations that were based on credible and persuasive evidence instead of speculation and rumor. However, in April 2016, unbeknownst to us, the enforcement staff shifted and excluded us from the investigation for several months. The results of this shift spawned allegations based on inconsistent testimony by individuals with clear motives and conflicts of interest. In fact, the IAC found that various witness accounts “could have led a reasonably prudent person to a different interpretation of the facts.”

Even with recent changes to the enforcement process recommended in the Rice Commission report, inequities will persist, and ironically, institutions will be at a further disadvantage to contest allegations that they believe are not based on facts. In addition, every institution that has decades-old cases should remain alarmed over this decision and skeptical about the discretion afforded the COI. If the COI can “accord significant weight” to prior cases from a 30-year time frame when prescribing penalties, then no program will ever get a clean slate. We are troubled that the IAC, in its written decision, ignored this overreach by the COI. All of this suggests that additional NCAA reforms are needed, and we will be a leader in that effort.

Throughout the NCAA enforcement process, we accepted responsibility for violations of NCAA bylaws that were grounded in fact, and we took meaningful corrective action and self-imposed harsh sanctions. However, when allegations not grounded in fact were presented, we vigorously defended our great university.

As leaders at the University of Mississippi, we are sorry for what the Ole Miss family has endured throughout this long, arduous process. As the state’s flagship university, our resolve has been tested many times in our history, and we have prevailed by staying true to our core values combined with the amazing support of the Ole Miss family. This challenge will not define us, and we will be stronger because of it.

This ordeal is now over. Our attention must now be on the present and the future of our football program, and we are calling on the Ole Miss family to help finish this season strong. With the freedom to recruit and promote all that the University of Mississippi has to offer, Coach Luke and his staff will keep building on the momentum we have in our program.

The NCAA sanctioned Ole Miss in December 2017.  It said  Ole Miss "fostered an unconstrained booster culture—particularly in boosters' relationships with the football program and their involvement in recruiting."  The NCAA's findings cite the improper involvement of boosters in the football program from 2010 to 2015.  It states they provided illegal free benefits such as meals, use of vehicles,  lodging, merchandise, hunting, and of course, cash payments.  It cites four assistant football coaches and two athletic department employees for committing NCAA violations.  Two members of the football program "helped arrange fraudulent" ACT scores for three recruits.  Then there is the matter of Leo Lewis: 

many other violations were  centered  on  two  highly recruited  student-athletes.  Among  those violations,  a  booster provided $10,000 cash for one of those prospects to commit to Mississippi, while another booster gave $800 cash to the other prospect's step-father after the prospect enrolled.
The NCAA said the violations were all part of a "culture of rules violations being acceptable" in the football program.  It said members of the coaching staff were "often in regular contact" with the boosters who were cited by the NCAA and did not report violations when discovered.

Coach Freeze did promote an "atmosphere of compliance."  However, the NCAA said he "failed to monitor his program's activities" regarding the recruiting of high school prospects.   The co-mingling of boosters, Ole Miss employees, recruits, and improper benefits was evidence that there was a lack of institutional control of the football program (p.48).  Employees and boosters coordinated with each other on providing illegal benefits to recruits and stonewalling the NCAA investigation.

The NCAA refused to reverse the lack of institutional control finding.  It said coaching staff "directed" recruits to engage in "test fraud."  Recruiting paperwork was falsified.  One coach used a "secret phone for recruiting purposes."  A dozen boosters were involved in violations that included payments, cars, and illegal benefits for recruits.

Original NCAA Penalties

1. Ole Miss's football program is place on probation from December 1, 2017 to November 30, 2020. 
2. Ole Miss must pay a financial penalty of $179,797 (Uncle Dickie can a check for that one and not lose any sleep.)
3. 13 scholarship reductions
4.  Any NCAA program that hires Hugh Freeze as a Head Football Coach from December 1, 2017 to November 30, 2018 shall suspend  him for two games. This does not apply to his employment as an assistant coach or lower member of a coaching staff.
5. A show cause order is issued against a former operations coordinator.  The NCAA said he committed similar violations at USL and also engaged in a cover-up when the NCAA investigated the Ole Miss football program (p.57).  The NCAA apparently issued a show cause order for eight years in the prior case.  It states that an additional show cause order will run from January 11, 2024 to January 10, 2032.  No NCAA member can hire him in an athletic-related position nor allow him to have any contacts with athletes or their families. 
6. Assistant coach #3 received a show-cause order for a five year term that will expire on November 30, 2022. 
7. Chris Kiffin received a two year show-cause order that expires on November 30, 2019.
8.  A five-year show-cause order is imposed on Assistant Athletic Director. Barney Farrar  It expires on November 30, 2022.
9. Ole Miss must vacate will wins in which ineligible athletes competed.


Anonymous said...

"The IAC overturned the penalty entirely, clearing the way for the football program to move forward and continue recruiting at a high level."...

"As the state’s flagship university, our resolve has been tested many times in our history, and we have prevailed by staying true to our core values combined with the amazing support of the Ole Miss family."

What an arrogant bunch of assholes. I guess if they tell themselves that enough times, they will believe it. #flagship #myass

Anonymous said...

If 'lack of institutional control' still stands (as stated above in the article), how the hell does Bjork still have an office?

Anonymous said...

Flagship University? Rebels, black bears, landsharks, even they don't know who they are, and they want to be called the flagship university? They are nothing but an embarrassment to the state.

Anonymous said...

Ole Miss and its political correctness has left their identity in shambles.

Anonymous said...

Wow! How the hell do you promote "an atmosphere of compliance' while at the same time failing to "monitor his program's activities". Sounds like the University of Mississippi ought to at least offer a class: Hypocrisy 101
Faculty should be no problem at all. Freshman athletes not allowed in the class.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, you state homers should double up on your Xanax.

Anonymous said...

As long as the good ole boys continue to run the football program, and their only requirement is that their HC love Ole Miss, their chance of winning many games remains very low.

Anonymous said...

OK...We've got Carville (LSU) clashing with the SEC, Hate For Bama and now the embarrassment of the state, OLE Myth, all in the headlines on this blog. You'd think Rick Cleveland was in the Blog Wheelhouse. What's next?

Anonymous said...

They just took back the unofficial visits which is impossible to monitor. If some kid comes to a game that is an unofficial visit, how can you enforce that? They still have to have no problems over the next 3 years. The hookers for the players is where the line should have been drawn. Parents of recruits should never accept that. Right now 3 sports are on probation, football, track and women's basketball. It is truly a lack of institutional control and most of it can be blamed on the 60's alumni who think that they should be like the old days when you could sign 40 players a year and you had a JV team.

Anonymous said...

@10:12 To clarify, a kid coming to a game does not count as an unofficial visit. An unofficial visit is where the school can give the kid a free ticket, the kid sits in the recruits section, and the kid can come on the field with other recruits before/after games. The school cannot pay for food/transportation/lodging on an unofficial visit.

If the kid just came to a game and bought a ticket, he is simply a spectator just like the other 55,000. The NCAA has no jurisdiction over that.

It is a sign of the university's stance that Bjork has not been fired. Ole Miss simply thinks cheating is okay. Bjork should have been fired already, and Freeze should have been fired long before he was. Ole Miss simply doesn't want to clean it up. To clean something up, you have to demonstrate that you will not tolerate it.

Anonymous said...

It’s been so nice not to have to listen to the bs pour out of the mouthholes of blackbearlandharkcolonelrebels that I may actually go to oxford for a weekend.....just listen to the quiet.

Anonymous said...

10:41 Cheating is Okay. It's getting caught that's a bitch. Hotty Toddy.

Anonymous said...

I don’t see why state fans get so upset ole miss being called flagship university

1) Ole Miss endowment is twice that of MSU

2) We aren’t maroon

3) we don’t have hashtags in our end zone

4) we educate every doctor and lawyer (except Ms college) in the state

5) Matt Luke loves ole miss. Yalls coach doesn’t love state

6) whatever, you know it’s true

Anonymous said...

11:25 --

1) and still you have more non-Mississippians on campus than State. Not interested in improving your home state?

2) Yeah, you decide not to wear colors shared with Havard but colors that are the same as South Alabama...

3) Last time I looked you didn't have many students or touchdowns there either...

4) and what have those lawyers done right for this state??

5) Last time I looked love for the school isn't exactly the best qualification for coaching... ask Mike Shula about that...

6) Yep it is all true -- the delusions remain strong in LandBearShart land...

Anonymous said...


1. You might be correct about endowment. I honestly don't know.

2. Agreed. You are red/blue/gray.

3. MSU doesn't have hashtags either, as the NCAA does not allow them. You should try to stay current and accurate, and admit when you don't know something. Like I did in item #1.

4. I certainly wouldn't brag about educating all the lawyers. One must only read this blog to see the corrupt lawyers around. Did you educate Dickie Scruggs and his buddies?

5. Agree about Luke. He loves the university. It is simply a job for Moorhead.

Anonymous said...

11:25 Ole Miss IS without a doubt the embodiment of MISSISSIPPI. It's stature among the other states is well represented by the red and blue. When I travel to other parts of the country and say I'm from Mississippi people express great sympathy and always recognize Ole Miss as the bearer of the flag. When they marvel at the fact that we have schools in Mississippi they usually remember that name: Ole Miss. YOU MAKE A GREAT POINT. The flagship.

Flag-Shart? said...

You're right 4:18 - Who in which parts of this country could forget or 'not remember' the name Ole Miss, which comes to mind when a discussion is held involving race, statues, bananas in trees, street names, KA Old South Balls with blackface and integration.

And Ole Myth is nothing but a job to Luke since his asshole had tightened up so fiercely when he thought he wasn't going to have one when heads started rolling. Without his sports-bra, he'd be just another fat-boy assistant coachman.

Anonymous said...

I went to Starkville this past weekend and walked around the Junction - MSU's ersatz version of the Grove. Between all the cornhole setups (I mean WTF is up with that?) and the fat chicks in short skirts, I saw at least fifteen references (posters, t-shirts, etc.) to Ole Miss. The opponent was La Tech, but Starkvillians were carping about Ole Miss. The Rebels live rent free in their heads.

How many different nicknames have State fans made up for Ole Miss? Ole Piss, TSUN, Mississippi, Black Bears, Ole Myth, Landsharts, etc. Kind of obsessed with a certain rival, it seems.

And then there's this bit of brilliance from a few years ago.

Oh, and before the NCAA banned it, MSU bragged long and loud about being the first ones to put a hashtag in the endzone. Now it's a joke they can't live down. And they ring those cowbells and say "Moor Cowbell", but cry like little girls when others call them a cow college.

I think we all know which university is the flagship.

Anonymous said...

Find someone who loves you as much as a State fan loves news about Ole Miss.

Go Figure said...

Oh my. That "self imposed bowl ban, year 2". The Rebel Black-Bear Landsharks are sitting pretty right now at 5-4. They've got Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and MSU left on their schedule. They need to win at least one of those games to be considered "Bowl eligible" so they can enforce the penalty of being "Bowl INeligible"....otherwise, they weren't going to go bowling to begin with and the penalty is a moot point. Am I wrong?! Lose out and we roll that silly "self imposed bowl ban" into next year you silly Landsharks! Hobby Lobby!

Anonymous said...

I don't know jack shit about 'endowment' but I do know State paid millions in cash to renovate our stadium and build another Jumbo three years ago. Suck on that one, Bears. Meanwhile, Ole Myth is still passing the bucket at the gates asking for quarters and dollar bills from all the drunks.

Nobody can do major renovation on the backs of used cars. Nooo-baddy.

Anonymous said...

Ole Miss leads the nation in race riots.

Ole Miss burned Barak Obama is effigy.

Ole Miss hung a noose around the neck of the statute of its first black student.

Okay, flagship all you want.

Anonymous said...

A part of the NCAA sanctions was the vacating of certain wins. I have never seen how many wins or which wins.

Can anyone provide a link to which wins were vacated?

Anonymous said...

Ole miss fan assumes they have a bigger endowment and researches (typed in ole miss endowment in google) to confirm.
State fans say “I don’t know about no endowment”

Doo doo / white !

Doo doo / white !

Ole miss could go 0-11 for 5 years straight while state wins the 5 national titles. Ole miss would still be the flagship

Anon-E-Mouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We believe!!!!

Anonymous said...

We have more out of state students because we are a national school.

Anonymous said...

As a recent transplant to your interesting state, I have to ask...Is it a compliment to be called the flagship of Mississippi? I mean really?

Anonymous said...

Ole Miss fans, many of whom have never stepped foot on campus, struggle really hard for the point of insisting on some sort of 'flagship status', as if that has meaning.

I guess proclaiming 'flagship status' is sort of like many years ago when some of them proclaimed themselves national champions in football. If you tell yourself that often enough, some of you will buy into it.

I can vaguely remember when Ford proclaimed the new Edsel it's flagship automobile.

Anonymous said...

Things Ole Miss is proud of:

1. We taught Dickie Scruggs everything he knows.

2. We are very liberal.

3. We won some games by cheating our ass off. That's the way we succeed at life. It's much better than succeeding through hard work and integrity.

4. We have the most mascots of any school in the country.

5. We don't allow Ed Meek to say what he wants, but we love our professor talking about assaulting conservatives and stealing their food.

6. Did I mention we are very liberal?

7. Our "men" were red pants in the Grove. And our students will be successful as long as mommy and daddy get them a job and support them until they are at least 30.

8. And I forgot to say that we love liberals.

Anonymous said...

@10:53, where did you go to college and did you graduate?

Anonymous said...

Mississippi State - on the forefront of social media integration!


Anonymous said...

Man I’m so glad I went to USM and don’t live my life wrapped up in all the UM vs MSU crap. Y’all realize that people outside the state of MS laugh at you, right?

Anonymous said...

3:55 - For the past five years I've thought it was your boy Ellis Johnson who got people outside the state of MS to laugh at us. You do remember him, right. Zero and Twelve? And that's exactly what's lead to 43 percent seating occupancy at games in Hattiesburg this year.

Anonymous said...

3:55 here. Fortunately I don’t base my self esteem on what some meaningless football team does. I can’t imagine having my sense of self-worth that wrapped up in the success or failure of some sports team.

Anonymous said...

10:53 said "We don't allow Ed Meek to say what he wants, but we love our professor talking about assaulting conservatives and stealing their food."

10:53 has the Post of the Year.

Anonymous said...

4:46 - Other than your new corduroy jacket for church, just WHAT do you base your self-esteem on? Asking for the crowd.

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