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Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze gets one-year penalty; former staffers Barney Farrar, Chris Kiffin hit with show-cause penalties in infractions case

Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and some of his former staffers named in the school’s Notice of Allegations were penalized by the NCAA in its final ruling on the school’s infractions case Friday.

Freeze was assessed a one-year penalty running through Nov. 30, 2018 where he would be suspended for the first two games of conference play next season should another school hire him. The penalties were more severe for some of his former assistants.

Former administrative assistant Barney Farrar was given a five-year show-cause penalty while former defensive line coach Chris Kiffin was issued a two-year show-cause order. David Saunders and Chris Vaughn, assistants during Houston Nutt’s tenure from 2008-11, were issued eight-year and five-year show-cause penalties, respectively, for their roles in academic fraud and then lying about it in interviews with the NCAA’s enforcement staff.

Freeze, whose five-year tenure as the Rebels’ head coach ended with his resignation amid a female escort scandal in July, was charged with failing to properly monitor his coaching staff, one of the 21 charges levied against the football program. Four members of Freeze’s staff at Ole Miss — Farrar, Kiffin, tight ends coach Maurice Harris and running backs coach Derrick Nix  — were named in some of the allegations for providing or arranging impermissible benefits for recruits.

Farrar, who was fired in December after five seasons as the Rebels’ associate athletic director of high school and junior college relations, was named in four Level-I allegations, the most serious in the eyes of the NCAA. He and Kiffin were accused of arranging for Kobe Jones, Leo Lewis and Lindsey Miller, the estranged stepfather of former Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, to receive approximately $2,800 in free merchandise from Rebel Rags. Farrar also allegedly arranged for Lewis, a one-time Ole Miss commit before eventually signing with Mississippi State, to receive as much as $15,600 in cash payments from a booster.

The school fought the charge against Freeze in its response to the amended Notice of Allegations it received in February while Farrar denied his charges in his individual response, but the charges stuck in the COI’s ruling.

So what exactly does this mean for Farrar, Kiffin, Saunders and Vaughn going forward?

A show-cause order is the most severe individual penalty the NCAA can assess, applying the penalties levied against a coach for the length of the order. Those penalties could be transferred to another school if that school hires the coach before the order expires.

In order to avoid the same sanctions levied against the coach, the school must appear before the COI and “show cause” as to why it shouldn’t be penalized for hiring the coach and give examples of how it’s going to monitor.