Investigation into Mississippi State related to Ole Miss’ NCAA case ‘quickly opened, subsequently closed’
Published 11:16 am Friday, August 25, 2017
An investigation into Mississippi State stemming from Ole Miss’ NCAA infractions case was opened but quickly closed based on what the NCAA deemed as a lack of credibility from MSU linebacker Leo Lewis.
According to a report from SBNation.com, counsel representing Ole Miss wrote a letter to Committee on Infractions chairman Greg Christopher on Aug. 16 seeking access to the NCAA’s investigation into Mississippi State. The letter, which was obtained by the web site, claimed the enforcement staff confirmed to Ole Miss the investigation had been “quickly opened and subsequently closed” because Lewis’ claims of taking money from MSU during his recruitment were ultimately found “not sufficiently credible to support an allegation.”
Lewis is a central figure in Ole Miss’ case after being involved in seven of the 21 alleged rules violations against the football program, including claims that he received free merchandise, free meals and cash payments between $13,000-$15,600 from boosters while being recruited by Ole Miss. He’s been requested to appear at the school’s hearing with the COI on Sept. 11.
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But Lewis, who originally committed to Ole Miss before signing with MSU in February 2015, claimed in interviews with NCAA investigators that he and his mother also received money from Mississippi State. In an alleged conversation between Lewis’ mother, Tina Henderson, and former Ole Miss staffer Barney Farrar recorded on tape, Henderson told Farrar she received cash offers of $80,000 from MSU and $650,000 from LSU to deliver Lewis’ signature, according to the report.
In response to the NCAA’s amended Notice of Allegations, Ole Miss didn’t deny Lewis’ interaction with Farrar or boosters but refuted the alleged cash payments and other benefits, attempting to shoot down Lewis’ credibility by pointing out inconsistencies in his various testimonies. But the enforcement staff doubled down in backing Lewis’ claims in its case summary, writing those attempts were “baseless and should be disregarded by the hearing panel.”
“The enforcement staff asserts that (Lewis) is a credible and reliable source of information and showed himself to be materially correct and consistent regarding the information he reported,” part of the summary read.