Opening night of the NFL draft in Chicago began with many, including the school itself, touting the fact that Ole Miss was on the precipice of creating some program history. The Rebels did just that as, for the first time ever, they saw three players selected in the first round, but it was what happened in between that most will remember.
Laremy Tunsil, one of the trio expected to go as, ahem, high as No. 3 to the San Diego Chargers, saw his stock tumble as, shortly before the draft, “someone” hacked into his Twitter account and posted a video clip of the offensive lineman taking a bong hit through a gas mask. The hacking of Tunsil’s social media accounts wasn’t over as, after he was selected with the 13th pick by the Miami Dolphins, someone posted incriminating text messages on his Instagram account, missives that indicated he had received impermissible benefits from Ole Miss staffers.
Adding to Ole Miss’ angst, Tunsil, who was sued by his stepfather the day before the draft, answered “I’d have to say yeah” when asked in a press conference if he took money from a coach.
What should’ve been the best NFL draft night in program history instead turned into an abject nightmare for Ole Miss, which is still in the midst of an NCAA situation in part related to Tunsil. While Tunsil is free and clear of the ramifications of his bombshell and previously-acknowledged improprieties, it’s Ole Miss that’s left to deal with accusations that could, potentially, lead to further action from the NCAA.
“The university is aware of the reports from the NFL Draft regarding Laremy Tunsil and potential NCAA violations during his time at Ole Miss,” a statement from the school began. “Like we do whenever an allegation is brought to our attention or a potential violation is self-discovered, we will aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC.”
The 2016 early draft entrant missed the first seven games of the 2015 season as “it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.”
In January, Ole Miss was hit with a Notice of Allegations that included 28 violations spread across football, women’s basketball and track and field. Of those 28 violations, 13 are related to football, though the most serious of the allegations stem from the Houston Nutt era. Also included in that baker’s dozen are Tunsil’s improper benefits.
Exactly a week ago, it was announced that the NCAA had granted Ole Miss a 30-day extension to issue its response to the Notice of Allegations. Based on the events of Thursday night, both sides might need to clear additional room on their respective calendars to deal with Tunsil’s admissions.