Rebel Rags adds former Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, Scott Stricklin, NCAA to lawsuit
Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Rebel Rags accused former Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and others in MSU’s athletic department of collusion this summer.
Now Mullen, former Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin and college sports’ governing body have been added to the Oxford-based retail store’s legal spat related to Ole Miss’ NCAA infractions case. Rebel Rags on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in Lafayette County Circuit Court against Mullen, Stricklin, NCAA investigator Mike Sheridan and the organization itself as well as Leo Lewis, Kobe Jones and Lindsey Miller.
Sports Illustrated first reported the news.
Rebel Rags originally sued Lewis and Jones, both Mississippi State players, as well as Miller in June for defamation, commercial disparagement and civil conspiracy for what owner Terry Warren believed were intentionally false statements made by all three during interviews with NCAA investigators. The new complaint brings forth the same allegations.
Judge John Luther Kelly in October denied requests by Lewis and Jones to sever and transfer venue in the original case. Lewis and Jones appealed Kelly’s order to the Mississippi Supreme Court in November, which has yet to be ruled on.
The two cases will eventually be consolidated, according to the new complaint.
In the amended Notice of Allegations issued to Ole Miss last February, Rebel Rags is accused of providing impermissible benefits in the form of $2,800 worth of free merchandise to Lewis and Jones when they were recruits as well as Miller, the stepfather of former Ole Miss standout Laremy Tunsil.
The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions found Lewis, Jones and Miller credible in its final ruling issued Dec. 1. Rebel Rags was disassociated as a booster but has since been reinstated by the school pending the outcome of its appeal, which was filed earlier this month.
In a response filed in July to Jones’ motion to sever and transfer, Rebel Rags alleged that Jones, still a student at Starkville High at the time, conferred with members of MSU’s athletic department before giving false statements in an interview with the NCAA. The response also made reference to a statement Lewis made to NCAA investigators that he told a teammate in the spring of 2016 that he had been called into Mullen’s office and told that the NCAA would be questioning him before being coached “as to how he should respond to in order to protect Lewis’ own eligibility and to prevent MSU from being found in violation of NCAA rules.”
Representation for Rebel Rags rehashed those points in the new complaint, which includes 11 John Doe defendants that have yet to be identified.
“Defendants Miller, Jones, Lewis, Sheridan, Mullen, Stricklin, the NCAA and John Does 1-11 all conspired and acted to see that deliberately false and defamatory statements were disseminated and published by the Defendant NCAA and other media voices in such a way as to have maximum detrimental effects on the targets of the conspiracy, including Rebel Rags,” part of the complaint read. “This conspiratorial group of both specifically named and fictitiously named John Doe Defendants was successful in having these false allegations.”
Mullen and Stricklin are now at Florida in the same positions.
Read Rebel Rags’ full complaint below.