Ole Miss’ long, winding NCAA journey has officially reached the penalty phase.
The NCAA had accused the Ole Miss football program of 21 violations, 15 of which are the most serious under The Association’s penalty structure. Ole Miss self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 season as well as stripped itself of 11 scholarships. Additionally, they will forfeit all postseason revenues for the 2017 season, a number that will approach $8 million.
Friday, the NCAA added to those self-imposed sanctions by banning the Rebels from a bowl game in 2018 as well as stripping a total of 13 scholarships. That latter punitive measure is spread out over a period of four years.
Additionally, the program was placed on three years probation, through Nov. 30, 2020, as well as recruiting restrictions that include the reduction of official and unofficial visits.
The sanctions come less than two months after the university’s appearance in front of the Committee on Infractions and nearly six months after its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations.
From the NCAA’s release:
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.
Individually, Hugh Freeze, who was fired for off-field issues this past summer, has been notified he “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.” Two other assistants who are no longer with the football program were given show-causes of five and two years.
Because of the bowl ban extension, any Rebel football player who will be entering his final season of eligibility in 2018 will be permitted to transfer from the school without any restrictions.
Ole Miss officials are expected to address the NCAA’s sanctions at a press conference Friday afternoon.