The NCAA has finally announced significant violations occurred in the Ole Miss athletic department but with one very significant catch when it comes to the Rebels’ football program.
The Committee on Infractions announced their findings in the long-running case on Friday afternoon and found academic fraud violations involving two former Ole Miss women’s basketball staffers and a pair of ex-players on the team. Two former women’s track coaches at the school were also found to have acted unethically by providing false information to NCAA investigators.
The school’s time in front of the Committee on Infractions is only just beginning however. The association and Ole Miss both agreed earlier this year to split the overarching case involving the athletic department into football and non-revenue sports earlier this year when new allegations surfaced at the NFL Draft involving former lineman Laremy Tunsil. The NCAA did review any information related to the football program and provided no further update into the case beyond a generic statement.
“When both the university and enforcement staff informed the panel that they needed more time to further investigate the potential allegations in the football program after the enforcement staff delivered its notice of allegations, the panel separated this case to be fair to the university, and the involved individuals in the women’s basketball and track programs,” said Greg Christopher, the committee’s chief hearing officer and athletics director at Xavier University. “The panel maintains its commitment to fairness and processing infractions matters efficiently. Our panel’s review was limited to only women’s basketball and track. No football-related materials were part of our record, and we will only take up the football allegations once the investigation has concluded.”
Ole Miss’ football program faced 13 allegations of NCAA violations prior to the Tunsil story blowing up on the night of the draft. The school has already self-imposed the loss of 11 scholarships over four years as a result and has also limited unofficial visits and off-campus evaluation days for Hugh Freeze’s coaching staff.
Eventually the football team will get their day in the NCAA’s version of a court room but Friday provided no clarification as to when that would be exactly.
In a statement Wednesday night, Memphis head coach Mike Norvell confirmed that he has indefinitely suspended wide receiver Jae’Lon Oglesby and cornerback Kam Prewitt from his football program.
The teammates were reportedly involved in an on-campus physical altercation Tuesday. Later that day, several gunshots were fired into Oglesby’s car while the receiver was sitting in his apartment. Oglesby told police he did not see who fired the shots, but did indicate that he had been involved in the altercation with Prewitt.
No one has been arrested in connection to either incident, and Memphis police are currently investigating the situation.
“I will make no further comments on this matter while it remains under investigation,” the Tigers coach said in his statement. Norvell’s decision to suspend the players came after consultation with athletic director Tom Bowen.
Bowen said in his own statement that the university has “offered our full support to the local authorities investigating that incident.”
The past two seasons, Oglesby, a sophomore, has caught 25 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. Five of those catches and 46 of the yards have come in 2016. He also has carried the ball eight times for 64 yards.
A redshirt freshman, Prewitt has yet to play a down for the Tigers. According to the Commercial Appeal he was suspended during summer camp for undisclosed reasons.
Whether Florida will have its leading tackler for its annual rivalry game with Georgia won’t be known (still) for another couple of days.
The good news is that, for the first time since severely spraining his ankle in the Week 7 win over Missouri, Jarrad Davis returned to practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis. If the linebacker takes the field for the UGA game, it won’t be known until Saturday shortly before kickoff.
“Obviously, that will be one of those that it’s got to be right with him, got to be right with the doctors. We’ll see. Kind of game time,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “I thought he moved pretty well. One of the tackling circuits he got beat up by one of the sleds. The sled bit back, but it was good to see. The opportunity to play in this game is something that’s real special and that guy is a real big part of our team. He’ll do anything he can to help us.”
Davis currently leads the Gators in tackles with 48 and is tied for second on the team with 3.5 tackles for loss.
While the status of Davis remains up in the air, McElwain did confirm that two starting defensive linemen, end Jordan Sherit and tackle Joey Ivie, will play against the Bulldogs. Sherit underwent arthroscopic surgery three weeks ago while Ivie had surgery performed on his thumb the week before. Additionally, starting defensive end Bryan Cox has a chance to play despite his own thumb injury.
Thankfully, one of the more underrated in-state rivalries isn’t going away anytime soon.
BYU and Utah announced Thursday that the schools have reached an agreement on a two-game extension of their series. The Cougars will host the first game of the extension Sept. 11, 2021, in Provo while the Utes will return the favor Sept. 3 the following season in Salt Lake City.
The schools had previously agreed to games from 2017 through the 2020 season.
“BYU-Utah is one of the great college rivalries in the country. There’s a lot of history and tradition between the two schools and I’m glad we were able to extend the series through 2022,” said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe in a statement. “I’ve loved this rivalry as a player, coach and administrator, and look forward to the future games.”
The teams have played 91 times since the series kicked off in 1922. The Utes hold a 56-31-4 advantage all-time, including a 20-19 win earlier this season.
When Derwin James went down with a torn meniscus in Week 2, Florida State had the Clemson game circled as a potential date for a return. Unfortunately for both the player and the team, that won’t be the case.
On his weekly call-in show Wednesday night, Jimbo Fisher confirmed that James and his surgically-repaired knee will not play in the Seminoles’ game this Saturday against the Tigers. There is still no timetable for the sophomore safety’s return.
“Hopefully Derwin will be back here soon,” the head coach said.
One thing apparently off the table is a redshirt for James as Fisher said if the defensive back can return at any point this season he will.
The Clemson game will mark the sixth straight missed by James. FSU will close out the regular season against North Carolina State (Nov. 5), Boston College (Nov. 11), Syracuse (Nov. 19) and Florida Nov. 26).
In less than two full games this season, James was credited with 11 tackles and also has an interception.
As a true freshman last season, James’ 91 tackles were second only to Reggie Northrup’s 94. He was also second on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (4.5).
For that, he was named a consensus freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC. This offseason, he was named to the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award watch lists, and is widely considered one of the most talented players on the defensive side of the ball in the country.