Ole Miss released its response to the Notice of Allegations levied by the NCAA Friday morning with mixed reactions from those who absorbed the information.
Some jumped to some fairly harsh conclusions upon reading — or glossing over — the 154-page response document. Others are asking ‘What’s new?’
There were no great revelations in the allegations, just some minor details that don’t seem overly significant at this juncture. There was nothing that hasn’t been touched on via one source or leak or info flow.
The only real “news” is Ole Miss’ response to the NCAA Notice of Allegations, a majority of which are old, dating all the way back to 2010, except for the Tunsil “stuff” of improper lodging, improper use of a loaner car and boosters mixing with his stepfather, Lindsey Miller, who is now suing Laremy in an obvious money-grab, last-resort effort.
Now, before going any further with this, make no mistake, there are serious – Level 1 – allegations involved here, some that Ole Miss agrees with. Nobody is dodging that fact – not Ole Miss, and not your friendly neighborhood homer reporter. This is serious, and Ole Miss took it that way with every step, spending over $1.5 million in legal fees on its investigation/defense/response. In total, eight of the 13 alleged violations for Ole Miss football are deemed Level I.
Having stated that, however, some things must be explained.
One, Ole Miss has already imposed strong penalties, not only against women’s basketball a long time ago and track a couple of years ago, but against football. The Ole Miss Spirit previously reported many of these self-imposed penalties.
Here’s the list for football, and let’s be frank – that’s the main worry/concern here, with all due respect to track and women’s basketball. Disassociation of four boosters and one organization for three years; reduction of overall scholarships (Ole Miss is suggesting 11, one from this year already imposed, two next year and four the following two years), a reduction in recruiting opportunities (on campus, off campus, official and unofficial visits) and a monetary fine of $159,325.
Two, Ole Miss has been exemplary in its cooperation, even self-reporting a lot of the charges that were included in the NOA that the NCAA didn’t know anything about until Ole Miss brought them to the NCAA’s attention. Ole Miss has cooperated on every level with the NCAA – from full access for over three years, to being quiet in public while the program took a PR beating, extensive self-investigating and self-reporting of infractions to the aforementioned self-imposed penalties.
With that – full cooperation, self-imposed penalties and decisive action – in mind, Ole Miss is asking for the lowest level of Level 1 charges. There are three levels – aggravated, the worst types of charges; standard, middle of the road; and mitigated, the least severe. Ole Miss believes it has made a case for its charges to be mitigated when the hearing with the NCAA rolls around in 60 days.
Another reason Ole Miss believes the charges should be mitigated is the precedent of previous cases, which Ole Miss cited in its 154-page response document.
Ole Miss is confident the penalties it has imposed and suggested are strong enough and no postseason ban for football should be imposed.
There is also the matter of the latest Tunsil stuff – the draft day texts. Ole Miss is optimistic those will be resolved without further damage, but that is ongoing and nothing is certain there, just strong belief in the integrity of the people involved.
If we are admitting things to each other, mine would be that I was holding my breath hoping there was nothing new/major and hoping the response by Ole Miss would be thorough and compelling.
For the most part, I got what I was hoping for. A four-year investigation resulted in allegations for the football program that were 2/3rds food related. Adding up all 28 allegations in the Ole Miss NOA: $16,450 value of extra benefits.
Ole Miss has admitted to wrongdoing. Ole Miss will be penalized and has already penalized itself, but in the long run, based on the recent information and the cooperation level Ole Miss has exhibited, the end result should be what many have been saying all along – manageable.