Ole Miss

Tunsil's claim of cash exchange puts Ole Miss in uncertain situation

CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/ASSOCIATED PRESS 
 Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil was selected by the Miami Dolphins as the 13th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.
CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/ASSOCIATED PRESS Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil was selected by the Miami Dolphins as the 13th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. AP

CHICAGO -- The effects of Laremy Tunsil's draft night comments remain to be seen.

Ole Miss football did indeed have its historic night with three first-round NFL draft picks -- a program first -- but what should have been a feeling of joy was overshadowed by Tunsil's slide to near the middle of the round and his subsequent comments that he received money from an Ole Miss coach.

Tunsil, once the projected No. 1 overall pick, was drafted No. 13 by Miami. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell went No. 23 to Minnesota, and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche went No. 29 to Arizona.

Tunsil's slide followed a social media nightmare that saw him have multiple accounts hacked at the outset of the draft.

In his press conference after his selection, Tunsil confirmed the information in a hacked account, which included a conversation with an Ole Miss assistant he refers to as "Mr. John."

In the conversation, which was captured in screen shots of Tunsil's Instagram account, Tunsil asks for money to help pay rent, and "John" implies that the school will assist.

Speculation is rampant on who might have hacked Tunsil's accounts.

Tunsil is now a part of the Miami Dolphins and beyond the authority of the NCAA. Ole Miss is not.

The school released a statement late Thursday night saying it was "aware of the reports from the NFL Draft regarding Laremy Tunsil and potential NCAA violations." The statement said the school will "aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC."

It's unclear how Tunsil's comments might affect an ongoing NCAA investigation into Ole Miss football.

The NCAA presented its findings to Ole Miss in late January. The school has since been preparing its response. Last week, a third party involved in the case requested an extension of the deadline to respond.

The school is expected to make its response to the NCAA on or before May 22. It will also make the response available to the public, athletics director Ross Bjork said.

Now there's another layer to the drama.

Tunsil was asked point blank if he received money from an Ole Miss coach, and he responded with, "I'd have to say yeah."

If that proves true, the how and why parts of the question will in large part determine what happens next.

If an exchange of money occurred only to help with rent, that could be allowed by the NCAA Student Assistance fund.

The NCAA manual says "The Student Assistance Fund is intended to provide direct benefits to student-athletes or their families as determined by conference offices. As a guiding principal the fund shall be used to assist student-athletes in meeting financial needs that arise in conjunction with participation in intercollegiate athletics."

The NCAA cites a few clear items for which money from this fund cannot be used, but it provides a great deal of leeway for schools to make decisions on how to use the money to help athletes. It appears that rent or utilities would fall within the guidelines.

Ole Miss officials will not publicly comment on possible NCAA violations or an active NCAA investigation.

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