Ole Miss NCAA Allegations Are Concerning but Won't Derail Program Trajectory

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 10, 2016

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (left)
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (left)Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

In this week's edition of "As Oxford Turns," Ole Miss takes more public hits as new information emerges from an NCAA investigation involving the football program under current head coach Hugh Freeze and former head coach Houston Nutt, the women's basketball program and the track and field program.

Lots of hits. 

According to David Brandt of the Associated Press, a source close to the football program confirmed that the notice of allegations sent to the school by the NCAA last month includes 13 football-related violations of the 28 total violations—nine of which occurred under the Freeze regime.

That's quite a jump from ESPN.com's Chris Low's report prior to national signing day, which suggested that most of the allegations involved other sports, and the majority of the football-related allegations were from the Nutt era.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze
Ole Miss head coach Hugh FreezeRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

From a public relations standpoint, this is a killer.

The college football world piled on Ole Miss when the notice of allegations was first delivered, assuming that there had to be all kinds of nefarious activity going on to consistently lure top-tier talent to Ole Miss—which has never won the SEC West.

This new report will only give credence to that notion, because the potential presence of Level I violations—the most serious classification under NCAA rules—on top of an uptick in football-related allegations will give cynics enough ammunition to last for years. 

Plus, you never want the NCAA turning over rocks, because it might turn over the wrong one and really open up the floodgates. 

As Dan Wolken of USA Today noted, the reluctance to release some of the serious charges is concerning:

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

If allegations were truly how their people characterized them to friendly reporters, my guess is Ole Miss would have released them already.

If you're waiting for the hammer to fall on Freeze and the Rebels, though, you might want to stock up on food and drinks and consider packing chargers for your electronic devices.

You're going to be waiting for some time.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze
Ole Miss head coach Hugh FreezeJoe Robbins/Getty Images

As noted by ESPN.com, four of the football-related allegations that involve the current staff were already self-reported and include a "bump rule" violation, improper lodging of a family member (which is now legal), improper transportation and an improper video made outside the locker room. Four others are from the Nutt era. 

With those eight violations out of the equation, there are five football-related violations left that involve the current staff, and ESPN notes they are related to Laremy Tunsil.

Tunsil was suspended for seven games to start the 2015 season, which means the program knew about what was going on. The program took severe action, and then Tunsil was reinstated by the NCAA.

"Nothing has changed from our last statement on Jan. 30," Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork told ESPN.com on national signing day. "We are still working through the process."

Don't get caught in the trap of assuming NCAA cases are always the school vs. the NCAA. Most of the time, it's the school with the NCAA.

This situation appears to be the latter.

The ongoing NCAA investigation didn't prevent Freeze from reeling in a top-tier class in 2016 that includes 5-star quarterback Shea Patterson; 5-star offensive tackle Greg Little; 5-star defensive tackle Benito Jones; stud wide receivers DeKaylin Metcalf, A.J. Brown and Tre Nixon; safety Deontay Anderson; and more.

Could there be a few scholarships lost? Of course, especially if there is something that Ole Miss and the NCAA didn't discover during the process.

But Ole Miss is still loaded with talented players, Freeze has improved his win total every year, and there doesn't appear to be much in the notice of allegations once you break it down to suggest impending doom.

Ole Miss is here, and it isn't going anywhere.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.