Eli and Archie Manning’s football family has gotten itself in hot water. The NCAA completed its investigation into the Ole Miss football team, the Clarion-Ledger's Antonio Morales reported Wednesday, and the Rebels are the latest big-name college athletics program to be slapped with severe sanctions for playing in a dirty recruiting pool.
Just add them to a long list of proud universities who have shamed themselves in the pursuit of athletic prominence, acting completely against the ethical standards that they hold their students to and proclaim to promote in their college environments.
According to Ole Miss, the NCAA has come to the conclusion that the “scope and nature of the violations demonstrate that the university lacked institutional control and failed to monitor the conduct and administration of its athletics program.”
Ole Miss will contest this serious Level I violation, among others.
The university received the official notice of allegations from the NCAA, which included eight new charges against the football program as well as the expansion of a ninth initially made against the program earlier as part of 13 violations announced in a notice of allegations last May . That brings the total number of football-related charges against them to 21.
As a result of infractions committed during Hugh Freeze's tenure and that of former head coach Houston Nutt, the school announced a self-imposed bowl ban for the 2017 season.
Ole Miss had two nine-win seasons and two Cotton Bowl wins under Nutt in 2008 and 2009 and the school’s second 10-win season since 1972 under Freeze in 2015. It’s not like they were seriously contending for National Championships at the end of the day, but they did improve dramatically and the school’s recruiting game was way better than it had been.
The university began its damage control right away, issuing statements from Freeze, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Ross Bjork, Ole Miss' vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics:
At the end of the day it’s a costly risk the university has taken. Even with the bowl success, Nutt was 24-26 overall in his tenure at Ole Miss. Freeze is 39-25 with just one losing season since 2012 which ain’t bad, but now we know why.
Reports say the one-year ban will hit Ole Miss in those same deep pockets the university unethically used to pay recruits over a period of time. The school loses out on the $7.8 million it earns for its share of the SEC's postseason bowl purse.
Ole Miss also got some razzing from former Rebels beast baller Marshall Henderson, who had a love-hate relationship with the University during his tumultuous, but productive time at the school.
How you gonna cheat and not even win a championship?! 🐸☕️... #HottyToddy til the end !!— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) February 22, 2017
According to Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde, “the Rebels' violations cover the football program, women's basketball and track and field teams."
In August, Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil admitted on the NFL draft's first night that he accepted money from Ole Miss. It was pretty much a wrap after that for any proclamations of innocence by the school.
The NCAA then visited multiple SEC schools, including Mississippi State and Auburn, to interview players whom Ole Miss recruited and discovered that an Ole Miss staffer connected a prospective recruit to boosters, who then paid $13,000 to $15,600 before the recruit ultimately signed with another school.
Ole Miss may not traditionally practice the art of buying college players, but every major university that has had a football come-up of sorts usually jump-started that run of excellence with some booster cash and ghost funding that makes the difference between that school getting the No. 2 ranked blue chip QB or the No. 18-ranked HS QB.
Ole Miss will suffer the consequences as all major universities with a solid cash stream and star-studded alumni do. They just won’t be able to ever point fingers at another school again about anything unethical in recruiting or attracting student athletes.