The NCAA went full NCAA on former Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief during his junior season with the Rebels in 2013.
In April 2013, NCAA officials saw a picture of Moncrief driving a red 2009 Dodge Challenger. Almost immediately, the organization launched an investigation. In September, Moncrief was ruled ineligible for the Rebels’ game against Alabama due to receiving impermissible benefits — the car.
Oh by the way, the car belonged to Moncrief’s older brother. He would lend it to his brother to drive while he was traveling for work. The NCAA didn’t believe Spencer Moncrief could afford the car.
In a wide-ranging, complex, illuminating story written by Steven Godfrey of SB Nation, he details what the Moncrief brothers and Ole Miss went through in order to clear Donte’s name and allow him to continue playing and eventually make the jump to the NFL.
It began with the NCAA quickly concluding that the brothers were receiving some form of improper payments in order to keep the car, thus making Donte ineligible to play.
“The NCAA tells you nothing,” Moncrief said. “They find you guilty first and then try to prove it. You have no power to defend yourself.”
But the elder Moncrief didn’t back down from the powerful entity, providing bank statements, travel information, work logs, and more all to ensure that his brother was cleared.
“To prove I owned my car, basically,” he says. “They hung up my brother’s career for that.”
The NCAA went to ridiculous lengths to try to prove guilt among the Moncriefs, on which Godfrey provides great detail in his story. Investigators traced where Spencer stayed on trips, asked for customer lists and records from his haircut business, and tried to claim he was in another city on the day he paid his initial note for his car.
Eventually, after exhausting numerous options, Donte was reinstated to Ole Miss’s team before the game against Alabama. Although the wide receiver could have hit back at the NCAA, he just wanted to play ball.
“I want to get out and make it for my family,” the younger Moncrief said.
Spencer Moncrief ultimately thought there was one sole reason for the entire investigation.
“I’m a grown man,” he said. I’m not a kid. I’m a grown man with a car that I let my brother drive sometimes. I have a degree; why can’t I afford a car? The entire process, I was like dang, because I drive a car, a nice car, I really felt like they were discriminating. Honestly. ‘He’s black, he can’t afford that car.’”