Facing serious allegations that its football, women’s basketball and women’s track and field programs committed multiple NCAA infractions, Ole Miss distributed an open letter Friday that released both the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations (NOA) against the school as well as the university’s official response to those allegations.
Detailed within the NOA is a list of 28 infractions the NCAA claims Ole Miss to have committed, 13 of which involve the football program. Eight of those 13 allegations have been categorized as Level I infractions, which is considered a “severe breach of conduct,” per NCAA bylaws.
Additionally, Ole Miss tight ends coach Maurice Harris, defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, running backs coach Derrick Nix — as well as former assistant coach Chris Vaughn and former administrative operations coordinator for football David Saunders — are all named in the NOA.
The Level I football program violations listed include:
- Saunders and Vaughn arranging for three prospects to earned fraudulent ACT exam scores in order for them to attain NCAA eligibility and play for the university of scholarship.
- Saunders and Vaughn, along with Nix, allowing a “representative of the institution’s athletic interests” to provide non-permissible recruiting benefits (such as free meals, lodging and transportation) to six prospects, valued at $1,750.
- Vaughn violating the “NCAA enforcement cooperative principle” by consulting with witnesses of the NCAA’s investigation of Ole Miss, as well as knowingly providing false information to the NCAA. Saunders also allegedly lied to the NCAA.
- The program providing football players with free loaner cars, valued in total as $7,495 worth of extra benefits.
- A former representative of the Ole Miss athletic department helping recruits and/or their families pay for academic tutoring, food, telephone bills and lodging, among other improper benefits, worth approximately $2,250. Harris is purported to have had direct knowledge of this along with providing $485 worth of extra benefits himself.
- Providing free housing to a football player on 12 separate instances, valued at $2,253 in total.
- An institutional representative providing a football player with $800 cash.
Three other infractions are categorized as Level II violations, while the remaining two are Level III.
Across all three sports cited in the NOA, the total of impermissible benefits provided to student-athletes or prospects by Ole Miss is estimated at $16,935.
Additionally, Ole Miss outlined a list of self-imposed penalties for each of those three programs. For football, those include:
- Scholarship reduction
- Recruiting suspensions for two assistant coaches
- Reduction of recruiting evaluation opportunities as well as official and unofficial visits allotted
- “Disassociation” with one organization and four individuals over the next three years
- Supplementary rules education for staff members
- A fine of just over $159,000