Who are the boosters involved in Ole Miss’ NCAA case? School identifies 12 of 14 in unredacted response
Published 3:04 pm Friday, July 28, 2017
The identities of 12 of the 14 boosters involved in the NCAA’s investigation into Ole Miss’ football program have been revealed.
In accordance with a final order recently handed down by the Mississippi Ethics Commission, Ole Miss on Friday released the names of boosters referenced in the two Notice of Allegations the school received from the NCAA as well as the university’s responses. Boosters’ names were previously redacted in the documents.
One booster, referred to as Booster 12 along with the booster’s employer (Booster 14), remained unnamed after appealing the MEC’s decision and being granted a temporary order of stay by the Hinds County Chancery Court. Ole Miss is awaiting further word from the court before revealing their names.
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The identities of the other boosters along with a brief description of their role in the probe and the level of allegation in which they’re involved (in parentheses) are listed below. The NCAA defines a booster as a representative of a university’s athletic interests.
— Booster 1 is Darel Thigpen. Ole Miss agreed that Thigpen worked with former staffer David Saunders and former assistant coach Chris Vaughn to arrange free housing, meals and transportation for six recruits in the summer of 2010 totaling approximately $1,750 (Level I).
— Booster 2 is Walter Hughes. Ole Miss agreed that Hughes provided numerous impermissible benefits during the 2012-13 academic year to four Memphis-area recruits and their family members, including free rides to campus, meals and clothing, totaling approximately $2,250 (Level I). Ole Miss has disassociated Hughes for at least the duration of its three-year probation.
— Booster 3 is Cannon Motors. Ole Miss agreed that the Oxford-based car dealership gave former Ole Miss lineman Laremy Tunsil (3) and safety C.J. Hampton (1) the impermissible use of four loaner cars from the summer of 2014 to August 2015 (Level I).
— Booster 4 is Cannon Motors owner Michael Joe Cannon. Ole Miss agreed that Cannon provided Tunsil with an interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for the purchase of a vehicle in June 2015 (Level I). Ole Miss has disassociated Cannon and his company for three years.
— Booster 5 is Michael Strojny. Ole Miss agreed that Strojny made a cash payment of at least $500 to Lindsey Miller, Tunsil’s estranged stepfather, in August 2014 (Level I). Ole Miss has disassociated Strojny for at least the duration of its three-year probation.
— Booster 6 is Chan Patel. Ole Miss agreed that Patel provided free lodging to some of Tunsil’s family members on 12 occasions from June 2013 to May 2014 valued at approximately $2,253 (Level I). Ole Miss has disassociated Patel for at least the duration of its three-year probation.
— Booster 7 is Robert Dunlap. Ole Miss agreed that the football program arranged for a recruit to receive free access to Dunlap’s hunting land during a recruiting visit in January 2013 (Level III).
— Booster 8 is Rebel Rags, an Oxford-based retail clothing store. Ole Miss is challenging entirely the allegation that former staffer Barney Farrar and former assistant coach Chris Kiffin arranged for Miller and then-recruits Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones to receive approximately $2,800 in free merchandise from Rebel Rags between Jan. 25-27, 2013 and between March 2014 and January 2016 (Level I).
— Booster 9 is Rebel Rags owner Terry Warren. As part of the allegation against Rebel Rags, Ole Miss is challenging that Warren facilitated contact between the former Ole Miss staff members and Lewis, Jones and Miller.
The allegation turned in to a legal matter this summer when Rebel Rags filed a lawsuit in Lafayette County Circuit Court suing Lewis, Jones and Miller for defamation, commercial disparagement and civil conspiracy for what Warren believes were false statements made deliberately by the trio during interviews with NCAA investigators. Lewis, Jones and Miller have all filed motions to dismiss while Rebel Rags accused the defendants of conspiring with Mississippi State officials in its response to Jones’ motion.
— Booster 10 is Lee Harris. Ole Miss is challenging in part the allegation that Harris made cash payments between $100 and $200 to Lewis and gave free food and drinks to Lewis, friends and family members, all totaling between $200 and $600, between March 2014 and January 2015 (Level I). Ole Miss doesn’t dispute that Harris had in-person and telephone contact with Lewis and his friends but refutes the alleged cash payments.
— Booster 11 is Funkys, an Oxford-based restaurant and bar owned by Harris. As part of the allegation against Harris, Ole Miss agreed that Lewis and his friends went to Funkys multiple times and that they likely got free food and drinks on at least one occasion.
— Booster 13 is Arya Keyes. Ole Miss agreed with the allegation that Keyes, through an arrangement with Farrar, provided Lewis and other recruits with impermissible transportation to the school for a summer camp and an unofficial visit in June and August of 2014 (Level I). Ole Miss has disassociated Keyes, banned Keyes from attending home athletic events and restricted Keyes’ access to all athletic facilities.
The temporary order of stay has kept the identities of Booster 12 and Booster 14, Booster 12’s employer, hidden for now. Ole Miss is challenging in part the allegation that Farrar arranged for Booster 14 to have impermissible contact with Lewis during his recruitment and made multiple cash payments to Lewis totaling between $3,000 and $5,600 between April 2014 and January 2015 (Level I). Ole Miss agrees impermissible contact was made but refutes the alleged cash payments.
Booster 14 is accused in the same allegation of having impermissible contact with Lewis facilitated by Farrar and providing the cash payments to Lewis using Booster 12 to deliver the payments. Additionally, Booster 14 is accused of making a separate $10,000 payment to Lewis in February 2015.
Ole Miss also challenged in part the allegations against Booster 12, agreeing that impermissible contact with Lewis took place but refuting all of the alleged cash payments. In its response, Ole Miss said it was “troubled” by both boosters’ impermissible involvement in Lewis’ recruitment and has disassociated them, banned them from attending home athletic events and restricted their access to all athletic facilities.