Ole Miss Gets Two-Year Bowl Ban, Loss of Scholarships Following Sanctions
The seemingly never-ending investigation by the NCAA into Ole Miss athletics is finally over — and the football program took the brunt of the penalties.
The NCAA will officially announce its sanctions later Friday, but reports from SBNation and ESPN note that the school will receive four years probation, a two-year total bowl ban (one additional year from what has already been self-imposed) and see a reduction of 13 additional scholarships over three years on top of the 11 over four years that Ole Miss self-imposed. The school will also be fined.
Every coach mentioned in the Notice of Allegations received a show-cause penalty of some timeframe, including former head football coach Hugh Freeze (one year), former assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations Barney Farrar and former assistant David Saunders, who worked for former coach Houston Nutt and was most recently at Louisiana-Lafayette (2011-14).
A show-cause penalty means that any school hoping to hire any of those coaches prior to the order running out will have to present a case to the infractions committee.
The additional bowl ban means that players currently with the program have the ability to transfer to other FBS institutions without sitting out a year as generally mandated by the NCAA. So stars like rising junior quarterback Shea Patterson and wide receiver A.J. Brown suddenly have big decisions to make: stay or go.
The announcement by the NCAA brings to an end a long process that began with an investigation that began with women’s track, basketball and academic issues relating to the Houston Nutt era Rebel football program (2008-11). The program self-imposed scholarship restrictions and a one-year bowl ban in 2017 as a result of that aspect of the investigation.
But when former Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil suffered through a miserable NFL Draft night that included a video of him smoking a substance through a gas mask, a sudden fall to 13th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft and the post-draft admission that he took money from Ole Miss coaches, the NCAA came calling again. That resulted in a second Notice of Allegations that dealt with recruiting violations that were unrelated to Tunsil but discovered due to the Tunsil incident extending the inquiry.
The Rebels went 6-6 in 2017 under interim coach Matt Luke, who replaced Freeze when the former Ole Miss coach was let go after the school discovered that he made improper calls from his university-issued cell phone. The day after topping rival Mississippi State 31-28 in Starkville, Luke had the interim tag removed, and the former Ole Miss offensive lineman is now on the job on a full-time basis.