Houston Nutt, Ole Miss Agree to Lawsuit Settlement

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 16:  Head coach Houston Nutt of the Ole Miss Rebels against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ole Miss and former football coach Houston Nutt agreed to a settlement regarding the lawsuit Nutt refiled last week, according to Tyler Greever of WJTV 12 News in Jackson, Mississippi. 

Greever also shared Ole Miss's official statement:

"Certain statements made by University employees in January 2016 appear to have contributed to misleading media reports about Coach Nutt. To the extent any such statements harmed Coach Nutt's reputation, the University apologizes, as this was not the intent, The NCAA's Notice of Allegations dated Jan. 22, 2016, did not name or implicate Coach Nutt in any misconduct, and it would have been inappropriate for any University employee to suggest otherwise."

After a judge dismissed Nutt's original lawsuit in August, Nutt's lawyer, Thomas Mars, refiled it Oct. 11. The Clarion-Ledger's Antonio Morales reported the Mars' argument "centered around an alleged breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing and punitive damages."

Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde reported in July that Nutt believed Ole Miss attempted to smear him and place the blame on him for the NCAA's ongoing investigation into rules infractions by the football program. Forde noted the NCAA was looking into 13 violations by Ole Miss and nine of those violations came under former head coach Hugh Freeze.

By refiling his lawsuit, Nutt and Mars brought more information to light about the steps made by some inside the school, including Freeze and Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork, to make Nutt the fall guy for the investigation. 

Forde first reported in January 2016 that the NCAA had formally charged Ole Miss with rules violations. According to USA Today's Dan Wolken, Nutt's lawsuit stated that "within minutes" of Forde's report, Bjork, Freeze and others began saying the violations were tied to Nutt and the women's basketball program.

The lawsuit also included specifics regarding calls made by Freeze and Bjork to various journalists, who then cited sources saying the NCAA violations largely came before Freeze took over as head coach in December 2011.

Freeze resigned in July as a result of information unearthed through Nutt's lawsuit.

Forde and Wolken reported Mars viewed records from Freeze's university-issued phone and found Freeze called an escort service. Bjork didn't specify the nature of the calls in a subsequent press conference after Freeze's resignation but told reporters the school had discovered a "troubling" pattern after looking into the phone records.