NCAA closes Ole Miss’ women’s hoops and track cases, separates football

Published 12:02 pm Friday, October 7, 2016

In handing down penalties for infractions committed by the Ole Miss women’s basketball and track programs Friday, the NCAA announced it has separated the football case from the other two.

The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions assessed penalties in its investigation dating back to 2012 that includes three years of probation running until Oct. 6, 2019 and show-cause orders for a number of former coaches in both programs. The committee also accepted recruiting restrictions, scholarship reductions and a one-year postseason ban in women’s basketball that had already been self-imposed by the school.

“The University of Mississippi is grateful to conclude the women’s basketball and track and field case and appreciates the Committee on Infractions’ efforts to bring closure to this matter,” the school said in a statement. “The University is equally pleased the Committee accepted the proposed and self-imposed penalties without further addition.”

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The committee panel earlier this year separated the football investigation from the other two cases once new allegations of rules violations in football came to light “in order to resolve the women’s track and women’s basketball violations efficiently,” according to a release from the panel.

The panel has not reviewed any information related to the football program and will not until the investigation is complete, according to the release.

In its Notice of Allegations issued to Ole Miss in January, the NCAA charged the football program with 13 rules violations — four of them being deemed Level I, or the most serious — with nine of them coming during Hugh Freeze’s tenure. That was before former offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil said in a press conference at the NFL Draft in April that he took money from an Ole Miss staffer — a question he was asked after screenshots of alleged text messages between he and assistant athletic director for football operations John Miller that showed Tunsil asking for money to help pay rent and family bills were leaked on Tunsil’s Instagram account.

“When both the university and enforcement staff informed the panel that they needed more time to further investigate the potential allegations in the football program after the enforcement staff delivered its notice of allegations, the panel separated this case to be fair to the university and the involved individuals in the women’s basketball and track programs,” said Xavier athletic director Greg Christopher, who serves as the panel’s chief hearing officer.

Yahoo Sports reported in August that the NCAA had expanded its investigation beyond Tunsil to players at other Southeastern Conference schools whom Ole Miss had once recruited, offering immunity to those players from possible sanctions in exchange for truthful accounts of their recruitment by Ole Miss.

Ole Miss self-imposed three years of probation, 11 scholarship reductions over the next four years and recruiting restrictions for some coaches. The Committee on Infractions could accept those penalties or add to them when Ole Miss has its hearing with the committee, which has been delayed as the investigation continues.

Click here to read the committee’s full infractions report.