Houston Nutt Files Lawsuit Against Ole Miss After Alleged Character Defamation

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2017

New Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze answers reporters questions at an assembly at the University of Mississippi Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 in Oxford, Miss. Freeze replaces four-year coach Houston Nutt. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Former Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt is suing the school and the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation, "alleging breach of contract via defamation of character, in relation to the school’s handling of an NCAA investigation," according to Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports. 

He is claiming the school ran a "long-running…smear campaign" against him.

Nutt implicated current Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and athletic director Ross Bjork in the lawsuit, regarding the NCAA investigation of the program. In 2017, the NCAA released a Notice of Allegations that charged the school with "21 football violations, 17 of which pertain to Freeze’s tenure at the school" and "includes an allegation that Freeze failed in his responsibility to adequately control and monitor the program."

Ole Miss is currently disputing several of the charges made by the NCAA.

But Nutt has claimed that Freeze falsely stated that the majority of the investigation involved Nutt's tenure as coach between 2008-11. Forde shared an excerpt from the complaint:

"Coach Freeze had knowingly lied to the journalists and recruiting prospects by saying that the NCAA’s investigation had little, if anything, to do with him or his coaching staff and was instead focused on alleged rules violations by Coach Nutt’s staff. Coach Freeze falsely stated that most, if not all, of the NCAA’s allegations involved 'Houston Nutt' and his staff. At the time Coach Freeze made these statements, he was fully aware that they were patently false, yet he continued to make such statements, severely damaging Coach Nutt’s reputation."

Forde added that Nutt's name never appeared in either of the NCAA's Notices of Allegation from 2016 or 2017.

Nutt's complaint also alleges that "each false, misleading and defamatory statement made by Coach Freeze and other members of the Athletics Department from 2014 through 2017" damaged Nutt's reputation and violated both Section 8 of the Severance Agreement. Likewise, the suit alleges any false statements made by Ole Miss representatives are in "violation of SEC Bylaw 10.2 (prohibiting recruiting using false statements or false pretenses), and an equally egregious violation of the Ole Miss Code of Ethics."

Nutt has also had tenures as the head coach at Murray State (1993-96), Boise State (1997) and Arkansas (1998-07). He is currently a college football analyst for CBS Sports.

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