Rebels get more time to respond to NOA

Published 12:02 pm Friday, April 22, 2016

Ole Miss will have another month to respond to the Notice of Allegations it received earlier this year, meaning any closure to the case won’t come until the fall.

Ole Miss has been granted a 30-day extension by the NCAA to submit its response to the notice it received in late January charging the school with multiple rules violations across three sports, including football. Ole Miss originally had 90 days to respond, a window that would have expired today, but athletic director Ross Bjork told the EAGLE on Thursday the school received the extra time after an involved party other than Ole Miss requested and was granted the extension.

In a statement released by the athletic department Thursday afternoon, Ole Miss said it will release its response to the allegations in full once the 30-day extension is up. Once the NCAA receives the response, it has 60 days to issue its final ruling.

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“This extension is an often-used tool available to all parties, and the Notice of Allegations itself has not changed in any way,” part of the school’s statement read.

Bjork said when the school initially received the notice that many of the violations alleged in football happened under former coach Houston Nutt, though much of the investigation into Hugh Freeze’s tenure is focused on former offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who was suspended seven games last season after an NCAA investigation found Tunsil received multiple impermissible benefits, including the free use of three loaner cars over a six-month period.

The Associated Press reported the football program is linked to 13 of the 28 rules violations alleged by the NCAA with nine of those occurring under Freeze. An ongoing investigation prevents anybody at the school from commenting on too many of the specifics, but when asked about the alleged violations under his watch, Freeze has reiterated he’s confident in the integrity with which he and his staff run the program.

Some coaches from the previous regime have recently found themselves in hot water.

David Saunders, a former assistant whose last year on staff was under Nutt in 2010, recently received an eight-year show-cause penalty after the NCAA found Saunders helped five players obtain fraudulent ACT scores while at Louisiana-Lafayette, something the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions said in its final report on the investigation into UL-L that Saunders began doing while coaching at another school. Saunders was also found to have paid a player, and UL-L was put on two years of probation.

In February, Texas fired defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn reportedly because of his alleged involvement in rules violations during his time at Ole Miss. The Austin American-Statesman, citing an anonymous source, reported the NCAA likely has “a thick file” on Vaughn, who coached at Ole Miss from 2008 to 2011.

The women’s basketball and track and field programs are also part of the investigation, which dates back to 2012. Then-women’s basketball coach Adrian Wiggins was fired before ever coaching a game because of academic misconduct and recruiting violations committed by two staff members, Kenya and Michael Landers, who were also let go. Two players were ruled ineligible while the program self-imposed a postseason ban the following season as well as recruiting restrictions.

Former track coach Brian O’Neal abruptly resigned last summer after three years at the helm in a move he said in a statement at the time that he believed was “in the best interests of the university and my own interests.”