Ole Miss has finally reached the end of its 6-year saga with the NCAA. The university announced on Thursday it has received a ruling from the Infractions Appeals Committee, lifting the unofficial recruiting visits restrictions but upholding the 2018 postseason ban.
According to the IAC, the Committed on Infractions overstepped in assigning the unofficial visits restriction, citing that it was based “in significant part on one or more irrelevant or improper factors.”
The ruling is the final chapter in a battled that spanned over a half decade and saw two different Notice of Allegations.
“While we are pleased by the IAC’s finding that the COI abused its discretion with respect to the unofficial visit penalty, we remain disappointed by the remainder of the ruling, which upheld a 2018 postseason ban and findings of lack of institutional control and recruiting inducements,” Vice Chancellor for Collegiate Athletics Ross Bjork and Chancellor Jeffery Vitter said in a joint statement. “Throughout the NCAA enforcement process, we accepted responsibility for violations of NCAA bylaws that were grounded in fact, and we took meaningful corrective action and self-imposed harsh sanctions. However, when allegations not grounded in fact were presented, we vigorously defended our great university.”
The full statement can be found here.
What does all of this mean?
The bowl ban being upheld means the Rebels’ 2018 season will end on Thanksgiving night at the culmination of the Egg Bowl, but will by then have served the bulk of its punishments aside from the 13 scholarship reductions handed down initially in December of 2017. The unofficial visit restriction being lifted is a significant development for Ole Miss with regards to the longterm effects this six-year-old saga has on the football program.
The unofficial recruiting visit penalty was an unprecedented penalty, one that would be hard to enforce adequately, but also one that if Ole Miss was caught violating it, it would find itself in a mess once again. Having the penalty overturned is a significant win for the football program longterm. It would’ve undoubtedly made it more difficult for Ole Miss to get kids to campus, a crucial part in landing talent in the recruiting process.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Matt Luke said on when asked about the limitations on Monday. “There will be some visit limitations, but through this season and in 2019, there are very little limitations. For the 2020 class, we’ll have to have a plan for when they can come visit.”
There is no bridge to cross now. The obstacles Luke and his staff were going to have to navigate around this on the recruiting trail have been removed. As Luke mentioned, not much of it pertained to the 2019 class, but if nothing else it provides a shot in the arm and some positive momentum in recruiting for the staff as they try to land players in what is the most talented in-state class in a generation. If one can deduct anything from watching Ole Miss on the field each Saturday, it’s that it needs better players, and a lot of them. Tending to that issue became a bit easier today.
Most importantly, it is all over. The cloud of uncertainty hanging over the program has dissipated. I would imagine a collective exhale was let out in the athletic offices and Manning Center today. After six years, the Rebels can finally put its NCAA troubles in the rearview mirror and move forward
“This ordeal is now over,” Bjork and Vitter said in the statement. “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.”