Ole Miss

Ole Miss releases names of all but two boosters accused in NCAA probe

Mississippi athletic director Ross Bjork speaks at a news conference concerning the resignation of football coach Hugh Freeze, in Oxford, Miss., Thursday, July 20, 2017. Matt Luke has been named interim coach.
Mississippi athletic director Ross Bjork speaks at a news conference concerning the resignation of football coach Hugh Freeze, in Oxford, Miss., Thursday, July 20, 2017. Matt Luke has been named interim coach. AP

The latest chapter of the NCAA investigation into Ole Miss’ football program played out Friday with the school releasing the identities of all but two boosters named in the 2016 and 2017 Notice of Allegations. The boosters names were previously redacted from the publicly released documents.

According to Ole Miss’ NCAA website, “John Doe” appealed the release of his or her name — as well as the name of his or her employee — and the Hinds County Chancery Court entered an order staying the Mississippi Ethics Commission’s Final Order in part, where it relates to the duo. John Doe and the employee are listed respectively as Booster 14 and Booster 12.

In a release, Ole Miss said “UM’s position is that the public interest is best served by releasing booster names. UM will await further direction from the Hinds County Chancery Court regarding the release of Doe’s name and the name of his/her employee.”

In total, Ole Miss’ football program faces 21 alleged violations, including 15 Level 1 violations, which the NCAA deems the most severe.

The boosters accused in the documents are Michael Joe Cannon, Cannon Motors, Chan Patel, Walter Hughes, Darel Thigpen, Michael Strojny, Lee Harris, Robert Dunlap, Ayra Keyes, Terry Warren, Rebel Rags, Booster 12 and Booster 14.

▪  Thigpen is accused of working with former coaches to provide free housing, meals and transportation to six recruits totaling about $1,750.

▪  Hughes is alleged to have helped recruit four players during the 2012-13 school year. The NCAA alleges Hughes provided the recruits with about $2,250 “in inducements,” including free rides to campus, meals and clothing.

▪  The NCAA accused Cannon Motors and owner Michael Joe Cannon of providing complimentary vehicle use to two Rebel football players between 2014-15. The NCAA also alleges Cannon Motors and Cannon provided one former player an impermissible loan. The total value of the extra benefits is about $7,495, according to the NCAA.

▪  Strojny, of Strojny Financial Services on the Coast, is accused of paying $800 to Lindsey Miller, the former stepfather of former Ole Miss lineman Laremy Tunsil, in 2014.

▪  Between 2013 and 2014, the NCAA alleges Patel provided 12 free nights lodging in Oxford to family members of Tunsil, valued at about $2,253.

▪  Dunlap allegedly provided free access to his hunting land for a recruit during his official visit in 2013.

▪  Rebel Rags, a fan store with school-themed apparel and more, and Warren are alleged to have given recruits about $2,800 in merchandise from 2013-2016. Rebel Rags has since filed a lawsuit against two Mississippi State football players and Miller, alleging defamation, commercial disparagement and civil conspiracy in their statements to NCAA investigators.

▪  Harris is accused of providing between $200-600 in cash, free food and drinks to a recruit plus his friends and family.

▪  The NCAA alleges Keyes provided a recruit and his cousin roundtrip transportation to Ole Miss for a summer camp in 2014. The NCAA said the value of the trip is about $121.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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