Starting Monday in Covington, Kentucky, Ole Miss will have its day(s) in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions. All of it will encompass the cases dating back to 2013. What started as an investigation into self-reported violations for women’s basketball and track spiraled into a years-long investigation which has taken several twists and turns.
Initially, the hearing on the Ole Miss football in front the COI should have taken place last year. The Laremy Tunsil draft night debacle opened the door for the investigatory arm of the NCAA to keep digging, however.
Though no additional charges were added on relating to Tunsil, a second notice of allegations was issued by the NCAA in February 2017. Several additional allegations, most notably relating to alleged payments to Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis to go along with the dreaded “Lack of Institutional Control,” were added to the mix.
Lewis is directly involved solely in five of the additional allegations with four of those being Level One, the most severe level of potential NCAA violations. He is expected to attend the hearing (per the request of the COI) early this week, likely Monday, in order for the committee to ask of Lewis questions which “It believes necessary to decide this case.”
Ole Miss is expected to challenge at least nine of the 21 allegations with agreement coming in relation to the ACT fraud charges (from Houston Nutt’s tenure, which in turn led to Houston Nutt’s lawsuit against Ole Miss which was dismissed from federal court last month).
Many of the other charges which Ole Miss agrees in full with are some of the lesser charges for which boosters have been disassociated and Ole Miss has self-imposed penalties. This includes a loss of 10 scholarships over three signing classes and an ongoing prohibition on unofficial visitors amongst other penalties.
Since Ole Miss’ response to the aforementioned second notice of allegations, head coach Hugh Freeze has forcibly resigned due to personal misconduct unrelated to the NCAA investigation. However, Freeze could receive a show cause when the sanctions are handed down which would hamper his ability to gain a job in the near future in the college game.
Interim Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke is also expected to attend the hearing with coordinators Phil Longo and Wesley McGriff expected to run practices and fulfill media obligations for the beginning of the practice week.
Matt Luke will not be at the weekly Monday presser tomorrow (attending COI hearing), might be back on Tuesday per Ole Miss— Jake Thompson (@JakeThompsonOE) September 11, 2017
The decision on sanctions and penalties is expected 6-8 weeks after the hearing. So they should come out sometime in the beginning to middle of November.
Regardless of the outcome of the hearing this week, Ole Miss also has a game to prepare for against a Power 5 opponent. The Rebels will travel to the west coast on Saturday night for a matchup against Cal. Given the entire team appeared distracted during the first half of Saturday’s game against UT Martin, getting the hearing over with is probably welcome in Oxford.