Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt reportedly seeks apology from school for response to NCAA investigation
Published 2:19 pm Thursday, May 25, 2017
Houston Nutt is seeking an apology from Ole Miss for the way the school reacted to the NCAA’s investigation into the football program, claiming that the athletic department’s response has hindered his ability to get another coaching job, according to Yahoo Sports.
The request comes 16 months after news broke that Ole Miss had received its initial Notice of Allegations from the NCAA charging the football program with multiple rules violations. Athletic director Ross Bjork said in a statement at the time that “many of the allegations” dated back to the previous coaching staff under Nutt, who coached the Rebels from 2008-11, and the eligibility of former offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, who was suspended seven games during the 2015 season for the free use of three separate loaner cars.
When the school released the first NOA and its initial response, it was discovered that nine of the 13 alleged football violations occurred under current coach Hugh Freeze, making Nutt feel like the school tried to pin more of its problems on his regime than was accurate. The NCAA has since levied eight more charges — each of them tied to Freeze’s tenure, including failure to monitor on Freeze’s part and a lack of institutional control — to bring the total to 21 with 15 of those being Level I, the most serious violations.
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“I’m 59 years old. It’s not like I’m going to get the next big job,” Nutt told Yahoo. “But you miss ball so much. … It’s just bad when you get hit from all sides and blindsided by it.”
Thomas Mars, Nutt’s attorney, told the website he’s hopeful this won’t become a legal issue but said a defamation lawsuit against the school is an option if Ole Miss doesn’t apologize, adding he believes the school’s response was “a smear campaign” against his client. Ole Miss said in a statement the school hasn’t received a formal request for an apology.
“If the university doesn’t recognize at some point the damage that’s been done, I would like to think the appropriate action will be taken,” Mars said.
Nutt is not named in the NOA, but two of his former staffers, David Saunders and Chris Vaughn, were the subjects of four Level I violations, including them arranging for recruits to receive falsified ACT scores and lying about it when questioned by the NCAA. Saunders received an eight-year show-cause order for his involvement while Vaughn was fired as Texas’ defensive backs coach after the first NOA was released.
Ole Miss received its amended NOA in February and is in the process of filing its response. The program has already self-imposed a bowl ban for next season.