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NCAA upholds Ole Miss’ 2018 bowl ban

Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

Ole Miss’ appeal has been reviewed, and the bowl ban for the 2018 season has been upheld along with the charge of “lack of institutional control.”

University leaders met with the ‘Infractions Appeals Committee’ before the season began in hopes of overturning several key aspects of their penalty, including the bowl ban, the institutional control ruling, and a penalty related to unofficial recruiting visits.

While the bowl ban remains in effect, the University was able to win their appeal as it relates to the unofficial visit restrictions. 

“For the full term of probation, (Ole Miss) shall limit all prospective student-athletes in the sport of football to one unofficial campus visit per academic year,” the COI’s report stated. 

In a repose to the IAC’s ruling, the University released a statement noting that while they were pleased to win part of the appeal, they feel that the NCAA’s enforcement system is flawed. In light of recent bombshell reports regarding recruiting violations in college basketball, Ole Miss referenced the inability of the governing body to properly investigate claims and issue punishment. 

“As the recent Commission on College Basketball (Rice Commission) report outlined, the NCAA enforcement model is “broken” and ill-equipped to handle complex cases, and we believe our case was adversely impacted because of it. In the early part of the investigation, our cooperation with the enforcement staff allowed us to contain the case to allegations that were based on credible and persuasive evidence instead of speculation and rumor. However, in April 2016, unbeknownst to us, the enforcement staff shifted and excluded us from the investigation for several months. The results of this shift spawned allegations based on inconsistent testimony by individuals with clear motives and conflicts of interest. In fact, the IAC found that various witness accounts “could have led a reasonably prudent person to a different interpretation of the facts.”

The statement references “individuals with clear motives” which most likely refers to the Mississippi State players that were given immunity by the NCAA to testify against their rival school. 

The COI pointed to similar cases at Ole Miss in the 80’s and 90’s in their initial ruling, and the school’s current admiration felt that it was unfair to bring those to light in this case. 

“Every institution that has decades-old cases should remain alarmed over this decision and skeptical about the discretion afforded the COI. If the COI can “accord significant weight” to prior cases from a 30-year time frame when prescribing penalties, then no program will ever get a clean slate. We are troubled that the IAC, in its written decision, ignored this overreach by the COI. All of this suggests that additional NCAA reforms are needed, and we will be a leader in that effort.”

Regardless of the disappointment for the Ole Miss football program or their fans, the announcement provides an official end to the questions swirling around the program relating to the NCAA’s time in Oxford. 

“This ordeal is now over. Our attention must now be on the present and the future of our football program, and we are calling on the Ole Miss family to help finish this season strong. With the freedom to recruit and promote all that the University of Mississippi has to offer, Coach Luke and his staff will keep building on the momentum we have in our program.”

At 5-3, Ole Miss will try to take their first step back toward normalcy this weekend when they take on South Carolina at home.

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