Ole Miss

UPDATE: Ole Miss responds to NCAA's notice of allegations

 Athletics director Ross Bjork and Ole Miss released its notice of allegations stemming from the NCAA's investigation into the school's football, women's basketball and track and field programs.
BRUCE NEWMAN/OXFORD EAGLE/AP/FILE Athletics director Ross Bjork and Ole Miss released its notice of allegations stemming from the NCAA's investigation into the school's football, women's basketball and track and field programs. AP

The NCAA's investigation into Ole Miss' athletics department took another step forward Friday with the school's release of the 52-page notice of allegations plus its 154-page response.

The release included a timeline and a list of self-imposed sanctions by the university.

In total, 28 allegations were included, spanning women's basketball (7), football (13) and track and field (8). The NCAA reported 20 were "primarily discovered and/or self-reported by the institution."

"For 27 of the 28 allegations, we agree that a violation of NCAA rules occurred; however, for several of those allegations we do not agree on all of the facts," the school wrote in a statement. "For five of those 27 violations, we believe the violation should be classified differently (e.g., the violation is alleged as a "Level II violation" but we contend the violation should be classified as "Level III")."

Current Ole Miss assistant coaches Chris Kiffin, Derrick Nix and Maurice Harris were named in the notice, as well as former assistants Chris Vaughn and David Saunders, who were on Houston Nutt's staff. Saunders, who has been attached to allegations at Louisiana-Lafayette, was promoted as Pearl River Community College's head football coach this offseason.

The track and basketball violations date back to the tenures of former coaches Brian O'Neal and Adrian Wiggins, respectively.

Regarding football, the 13 allegations range from complementary vehicle use, free lodging and impermissible benefits to recruits including meals and transportation, to personalized recruiting videos and interfering with ACT testing at Wayne County High School. Specifically, the NCAA alleges Saunders and Vaughn instructed three recruits who were taking the ACT at Wayne County not to answer questions they did not know how to answer. The NOA also alleges they arranged for an ACT testing supervisor to complete/alter exam answer sheets.

"We're aware of the situation," PRCC spokesman Chuck Abadie said in January after Saunders was tied to ULL's NCAA investigation. "We feel like we made a great hire and he will be a great leader for our football program."

PRCC spokesmen did not reply immediately to text messages requesting comment regarding the Ole Miss allegations.

Self-imposed penalties

Included in Ole Miss' self-imposed sanctions are the loss of 11 total scholarships over four years, starting with the most recent recruiting class and running through 2018.

Other self-imposed penalties include:

-- For football: Disassociation of one organization and four individuals for at least three years; additional rules education for involvement of staff; recruiting suspension for two assistant coaches; reductions of recruiting evaluation opportunities, initial and unofficial visits; monetary fine of $159,325.

-- For women's basketball: termination of involved staff members and head coach; post-season ban for 2012-13; reduction of scholarships; reduction of official visits, recruiting person days and calls and prohibition on the signing of two-year college transfers.

-- For track and field: Mutually agreed upon resignation of head coach; additional rules education with incoming staff members and reduction of official visits and off-campus recruiting days.

There is also a "general" three-year probation.

Laremy Tunsil

Ole Miss expected to have the NCAA investigation behind it heading into the summer but during the NFL draft, Laremy Tunsil brought the spotlight back on the university when alleged text messages between the star offensive lineman and assistant athletic director for football operations John Miller surfaced on Twitter. The texts appeared to show Tunsil asking Miller for rent so his mother could pay her $305 electric bill.

After being selected 13th overall by the Miami Dolphins, Tunsil was asked about the texts by reporters and acknowledged he accepted money from coaches.

Ole Miss has not officially commented on Tunsil's comments, but multiple reports say the money was part of the NCAA's Student Assistance Fund, which is supposed to help athletes with emergencies.

In Ole Miss' statement on Friday, it said, "On the first day of the 2016 NFL Draft, new information came to light involving a former football student-athlete. That very night, the University and NCAA began a joint review to determine whether bylaws have been violated, and we hope this review will be concluded soon. To ensure fairness to all parties and pursuant to COI procedure, we have asked the COI to remove the hearing from this summer's docket until this review can be completed and closed."

What's next?

The next step is for the school to appear before the Committee on Infractions. The committee will then either accept Ole Miss' recommendations or the NCAA will adjust on the sanctions as it sees fit.

Ole Miss says it spent $1.5 million on outside counsel as a result of the investigation.

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