The rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State has just earned another chapter as Rebel Rags, a retailer specializing in Rebels merchandise, has filed a lawsuit against former Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, former Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, the NCAA and NCAA investigator Mike Sheridan, per Bruce Feldman.
The store and its owner, Terry Warren, were part of the investigation into the Ole Miss program that resulted in NCAA violations, including Warren, named Booster No. 5 in the NCAA report, being banned from the university. Ole Miss reinstated Warren in December 2017 as part of the appeal process.
Ole Miss issued its official appeal to the sanctions last week, in part saying the store did not provide free merchandise to the players in question.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, the lawsuit alleges the parties listed were part of defamation, civil conspiracy and commercial disparagement against Rebel Rags and part of a conspiracy against the retail store.
“This Committee should vacate and reverse the penalties and factual findings,” part of the appeal read, “because the COI abused its discretion, departed from precedent, committed procedural errors, and reached factual conclusions inconsistent with the evidence.”
The store was alleged to have given two players, Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones, who both decided to play at Mississippi State under Mullen, hundred of dollars of free merchandise during their recruiting trips to Oxford. The school would go on to sue the two players for “defamation, slander, conspiracy and commercial disparagement stemming from false statements made to the NCAA and have since been published in the [university’s response to the] notice of allegations” during the summer of 2017, with a trial set for Oxford.
It is alleged that former Ole Miss assistant coach Chris Kiffin and staff member Barney Farrar helped collude with the retail store to provide the two players, along with Lindsey Miller, the stepfather of former Rebels star Laremy Tunsil, with the free merchandise, with the total being reported of nearly $3,000.
The Rebels are facing an extra year of a bowl ban while former coach Hugh Freeze, who was in charge of the program during the penalties issued by the NCAA, abruptly resigned in the summer of 2017 and did not appeal the decision against him.
Mullen and Stricklin are now coach and athletic director at Florida.