NCAA: Ole Miss lacked institutional control in football program
The University of Mississippi lacked institutional control and fostered an unconstrained culture of booster involvement in football recruiting, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. Six football staff members and 12 boosters were involved in the violations, which included the provision of approximately $37,000 to prospects through cash payments, the use of automobiles, lodging, transportation, meals and apparel. Two staff members also helped arrange fraudulent standardized test scores for three prospects.
The panel found the involved head coach failed to monitor the program, allowing his staff to knowingly commit a series of recruiting violations, submit false information on recruiting paperwork and not report known violations.
Penalties in the case include three years of probation; a two-year postseason ban for the football team; a financial penalty; scholarship and recruiting restrictions; vacation of records; a two-conference-game suspension for the head coach; an eight-year show-cause order for the operations coordinator; five-year show-cause orders for an assistant coach and an assistant athletics director; and a two-year show-cause order for another assistant coach. During the show-cause periods, if an NCAA school hires any of the individuals, that school must follow the terms of each of their respective orders.
The panel noted that the case was the result of a culture at the university where rules violations were acceptable in the football program and reminiscent of similar Ole Miss infractions cases in the past.
“This is now the third case over three decades that has involved the boosters and football program,” the panel stated in its decision. “Even the head coach acknowledged that upon coming to Mississippi, he was surprised by the ‘craziness’ of boosters trying to insert themselves into his program.”
Members of the football coaching staff knowingly committed recruiting violations and arranged for impermissible booster contact and involvement. Specifically, the assistant athletics director acted unethically when he arranged for boosters to provide prospects between $13,000 and $15,600 in cash payments, including $10,000 to one prospect, as well as lodging, meals and transportation. In addition, the assistant athletics director provided false and misleading information during his interview. An assistant coach and operations coordinator also acted unethically when they arranged the fraudulent ACT scores and arranged for a booster to provide housing and transportation to five prospects while they completed the necessary academic work to become eligible for competition. The assistant coach acted unethically and compromised the integrity of the investigation. The operations coordinator provided false and misleading information on multiple occasions during the investigation.
Penalties and corrective actions imposed by the panel include:
- Three years of probation from Dec. 1, 2017, to Nov. 30, 2020.
- A financial penalty of $5,000 plus 1 percent of its average football budget for three years, which was calculated at $179,797 (self-imposed by the university).
- A postseason ban for the 2017 (self-imposed by the university) and 2018 seasons.
- The head coach must serve a two-conference-game suspension for the 2018 season should any NCAA school hire him between Dec. 1, 2017, and Nov. 30, 2018.
- An eight-year show-cause order for the operations coordinator, during which he must not hold any athletically related duties or have contact with prospective student-athletes and their families.
- A five-year show-cause order for the assistant coach who facilitated standardized test fraud and living arrangements. He must not hold any athletically related duties during this time.
- A two-year show-cause order for the other involved assistant coach. During this time, he must not participate in off-campus recruiting activities or hosting any meals for prospects or student-athletes.
- A five-year show-cause order for the assistant athletics director. He must not participate in any recruiting activities during this time.
- Vacation of all regular-season and postseason wins in which ineligible student-athletes competed.
- Scholarship reductions through 2018-19, as detailed in the public report (self-imposed by the university).
- Recruiting restrictions, as detailed in the public report.
- Disassociation of boosters, as detailed in the public report (self-imposed by the university).
Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State; Greg Christopher, chief hearing officer and athletics director at Xavier; Bobby Cremins, former head basketball coach at Georgia Tech; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; Eleanor W. Myers, law professor at Temple; and Larry Parkinson, director of enforcement for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The above release was provided to WHNT News 19 by the NCAA.