The Mississippi football program might not find out its NCAA fate very soon, but the rest of the world learned more specifics regarding the accusations the Rebels face Wednesday.
Sports Illustrated published the results of its investigation, including specific allegations levied by a man in the process of getting a divorce from the mother of star offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil.
Lindsey Miller detailed several potentially serious violations involving Tunsil and his family, and SI was able to view some of the information he says he turned over to the NCAA during extensive interviews.
The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations is consistent with Miller’s claims in numerous places, including 12 occasions of free lodging that totaled $2,253. Miller says he told the NCAA those nights were arranged by boosters he met through [Mississippi DL coach Chris] Kiffin, but the NCAA never found that link. Kiffin’s name appears 13 times in the Notice of Allegations, but none of those prove he set Miller up with boosters.
Tunsil was part of a surprisingly star-studded recruiting class in 2013, but head coach Hugh Freeze has consistently defended his program against accusations his recruiting success was thanks to illegal methods.
Freeze, who took over as coach in December 2011, may minimize the NCAA’s case, but nine of the 13 football allegations relate to his tenure there. (Four allegations, including fraudulent ACT scores, occurred under former coach Houston Nutt.) There are four Level I violations under Freeze and a significant Level II failure to monitor charge in which the NCAA says the athletic department and football program failed to monitor Tunsil driving three different loaner cars between August 2014 and June 2015. (That latter allegation is the one Ole Miss is disputing.)
Perhaps complicating matters is the fact Miller went to the NCAA only after having a fallout with Tunsil and his mother, Desiree Polingo, during the summer of 2015.
Polingo denied Miller’s accusations via a statement to SI, and in another statement a lawyer for Tunsil told SI, “You have to consider the source.”
Mississippi has already admitted to 12 of the 13 allegations and self-imposed penalties, but it remains to be seen if the NCAA Committee on Infractions will find the punishment sufficient or more is added.
The full SI story goes into deeper detail about the situations facing not only Ole Miss athletics but also the NCAA enforcement model itself.