UPDATE: The Rebels will also receive three years of probation in addition to the things mentioned below:
The NCAA released this statement on their findings:
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.
It also mentioned that Hugh Freeze failed to monitor the program and knowingly allowed his staff to commit a series of violations.
The NCAA has reportedly handed down its punishment to the Ole Miss football program after a five-year investigation into it under coach Hugh Freeze. According to 247Sports, the Rebels received another year of a bowl ban on top of the self-imposed one for this season. They will also get a reduction of 13 scholarships as well as a fine of $179,000 according to the report.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach is also reporting that former head coach Hugh Freeze received a one-year show-cause penalty along with a two-game suspension, but it only applies to head coaching positions. Were he to become a coordinator or assistant coach then neither the suspension nor the show-cause will be applicable.
It was initially reported when Freeze resigned that calls on his school phone to escort services had been the cause of the decision. However, there were some serious NCAA violations that took place on those burner phones as well according to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal.
The new accusations began when Mars notified the school in July that he had evidence about alleged misuse of burner phones in recruiting. He alleged that coaches purchased phones with cash, sometimes at out of state locations or using fictitious names, that they used to conceal “communications with prospects that were prohibited by the NCAA’s rules.”
In some instances, Mars wrote, third parties bought the burners and then gave them to coaches. It also alleges the coaches instructed recruits not to put their names with these numbers in the contacts sections of their phone.
The Wall Street Journal had uncovered more on Freeze’s “pattern” of misconduct over several seasons, often linking the calls from Freeze to the escort services while Freeze was on recruiting trips and using the school’s plane.
Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork gave this statement to the Wall Street Journal during their investigation:
“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them. We took action swiftly.”
Ole Miss has stated before that they would have fired Freeze had he not agreed to resign.
Freeze’s phone calls were uncovered in what is an ongoing legal battle between Ole Miss and former head coach Houston Nutt. Nutt alleged in a lawsuit that Freeze and the school colluded to defame him after his firing several years ago, asserting that Nutt was responsible for recruiting violations that are now connected to an NCAA investigation.
Nutt’s lawsuit was dismissed in U.S. District Court last week over concerns of proper jurisdiction. Nutt will be able to refile his case in a Mississippi state court.
Offensive coordinator Matt Luke was named the interim head coach for the season and the school made him the permanent head coach after the season as well. He led the team to a 6-6 finish and a win over Mississippi State in the season finale to become bowl eligible.