Ole Miss’ fate is almost decided.
After receiving its 24-hour notice from the NCAA, the university will receive its final ruling from the Committee on Infractions today. The ruling will arrive via email around 8:30 a.m. with the full report document.
The Ole Miss football program is currently facing 21 allegations of improper conduct, 15 of which are Level I violations, which constitute a ‘severe breach of contract.’
Ole Miss contested at least nine of the allegations at the Committee on Infractions hearing in Covington, Kentucky, in September.
Ole Miss is facing allegations ranging from academic fraud, to boosters giving cash payments to recruits, to recruits and athletes receiving impermissible merchandise. The most serious allegation against Ole Miss was lack of institutional control.
The NCAA’s Enforcement Staff gave the Notice of Allegations to the university back in February. Athletics Director Ross Bjork and the university acknowledged the truth behind certain allegations and announced a self-imposed postseason ban the same day. If it hadn’t been for the ban, this year’s team would have played in a bowl game after beating Mississippi State 31-28 last week in the Egg Bowl and finishing the season 6-6 under head coach Matt Luke.
No postseason play means no postseason revenue, so the university lost out on making nearly $8 million. It’s already spent $4.5 million fighting the case so far.
Over the last four years, Ole Miss has also eliminated 13 scholarships.
There are seven other involved at-risk parties, who will be notified of the decision and penalties at the same time as the university. Some of these parties include former head coach Hugh Freeze, former staffer Barney Farrar and former defensive line coach Chris Kiffin.
The Committee on Infractions could accept some of the self-imposed penalties the university gave itself earlier this year or add more. Either way, Ole Miss still has a chance to appeal after the ruling is announced, which would extend the process by months.
These allegations and the ruling have loomed over the Ole Miss football program its entire season.
Following the final game of the season, Matt Luke was named the official head coach. The NCAA proceedings were brought up in his introductory press conference Monday. Bjork said neither he nor anyone else at the university knows what’s going to be on the final report.
“We’re prepared. We’re ready. We’re on go, whenever we might get our final report. And we’ll deal with it. We’ve hit this thing head-on every single time. We’ve taken responsibility where needed. We’re fought back where we needed to,” he said. “Obviously, we’re ready to get this over with. No one’s more ready than myself, Chancellor Vitter and now coach Luke. We’re ready, and we’re prepared, but we have no idea when and what might be coming.”
A lot might change for the future of Ole Miss football today, but for now, all anyone can do is wait and see what the verdict is.
The Daily Mississippian will continue to report on this story as it develops.
– Lana Ferguson