Column: Interlocutory appeals against Rebel Rags rejected by Mississippi judge

Posted on Apr 3 2018 - 7:07pm by Ben Miller

The long and confusing saga of Ole Miss versus the NCAA has developed many spinoff stories. One of these is the even more confusing legal tale of Rebel Rags versus Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones, players from Mississippi State’s football team who were heavily recruited by Ole Miss before they committed to the rival school.

The case was filed after Lewis and Jones told the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions that Rebel Rags, in conjunction with Ole Miss Athletics, provided them with large amounts of Ole Miss apparel as an incentive to sign with the Rebels.

Due to the NCAA’s investigations into Ole Miss’ recruiting practices, Ole Miss initially dissociated from Rebel Rags. However, they subsequently reinstated business relations, and Rebel Rags sued Lewis and Jones for defamation, citing a damaged reputation and loss of business for the players’ false accusations to the NCAA.

The two players, with the help of several attorneys, filed motions to dismiss. Those motions were denied. They then filed an interlocutory appeal asking for the lawsuit’s venue to be moved out of Lafayette County, saying it was unfair for the hearings to be hosted in the hometown of Rebel Rags and the Ole Miss Rebels.

The latest development in the case is a minor victory for the Oxford-based retail store as that interlocutory appeal was again denied by a judge Thursday. This means that the continued hearings of the lawsuit will take place at the Lafayette County Courthouse at some point soon.

This case could go several different ways.

Depending on the decision, things could get extremely ugly for Lewis and Jones. If they retract their previous statements in order to avoid the accusations of defamation in court, they will have committed perjury in the eyes of the NCAA and will suffer consequences. If they maintain that they did, in fact, receive illicit products from Rebel Rags and the court decides that they did not, they could be facing significant legal trouble.

Of course, this is all pending an additional future appeal by Lewis and Jones’ attorneys to move the case elsewhere. But after the latest events of the lawsuit, it seems that no judge will be willing to move this case outside of Lafayette County.

Ultimately, the truth is that the impact of this minor lawsuit on the school itself is minimal. At this point, the damage that can be done to Ole Miss has already been done, and no further evil will befall the university as a result of this hearing.

Should this suit reach worst-case scenario and Rebel Rags be placed on the legal hook, it could impact the business relations between Ole Miss Athletics and Rebel Rags, but that is both unlikely and inconsequential for the university.