Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis testifies at Ole Miss’ COI hearing

Published 7:25 pm Monday, September 11, 2017

Mississippi State linebacker and former Ole Miss recruit Leo Lewis reportedly made an appearance in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Monday.

According to a Yahoo Sports report, Lewis appeared at the ballroom of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Cincinnati RiverCenter hotel in Covington, Kentucky and gave testimony to the committee as part of Ole Miss’ infractions hearing, one of the final steps of a nearly five-year investigation into rules violations within the Rebels’ football program. Ole Miss is facing 21 charges, including 15 categorized as Level I, or the most serious in the eyes of the NCAA.

Lewis was not seen publicly entering or leaving the hotel, but the report cited anonymous sources that confirmed Lewis’ presence. The hearing will continue Tuesday and could trickle into Wednesday.

Once verbally committed to Ole Miss before eventually signing with Mississippi State in 2015, Lewis is a central figure in the case.

Lewis is involved in four Level-I allegations, his most serious claim being that former off-field staffer Barney Farrar arranged for Lewis to receive anywhere from $13,000 to $15,600 in cash payments from a booster during a period of his recruitment from April 2014 to February 2015. Ole Miss didn’t deny that Lewis had impermissible contact with multiple boosters in its response to the Notice of Allegations but refuted the alleged payments, citing a lack of evidence.

Lewis was granted limited immunity by the NCAA, which would protect him from possible sanctions and allow him to remain eligible at Mississippi State in exchange for true accounts of his recruitment by Ole Miss. In its response to the NOA, Ole Miss attempted to shred Lewis’ credibility by pointing out inconsistencies in his interviews with members of the NCAA’s enforcement staff.

But the NCAA deemed Lewis credible in its final case summary issued to the school in late July, saying Ole Miss’ attempt to discount Lewis’ testimony was “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.

A final ruling in Ole Miss’ case is expected to be announced six to eight weeks after the hearing.