NCAA Overturns Recruiting Sanction, Upholds Bowl Ban

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor
adam.brown@hottytoddy.com

Bjork Luke Vitter
Ross Bjork addresses the media at a press conference. Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Sports.

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Athletic Director Ross Bjork announced Thursday, Nov. 1 that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee overturned its recruiting sanction previously held against Ole Miss. This portion of the book is closed after a six-year holding pattern. As for a chance at a post-season bowl game, the Rebels will remain at home. 

Vitter and Bjork released a joint statement that clarified the sanction overturn by the NCAA “closing the university’s case” of a long list of allegations during Hugh Freeze’s reign. 

Vitter and Bjork’s statement said the university prevailed in its appeal of “the most onerous sanction” — the sanction restricting unofficial visits.

According to the IAC, “the Committee on Infractions (COI) abused its discretion when prescribing penalty VII.5.c [unofficial visit restrictions] in that it was based in significant part on one or more irrelevant or improper factors.” The sanction was officially overturned. 

The unofficial visit restrictions that were set in place for Ole Miss only allowed prospective recruits one unofficial visit to campus per academic year. Now that this sanction has been overturned, the Rebels can recruit to the fullest extent.

Bjork and Vitter said in their statement they feel this clears the gate for Ole Miss recruiters to move forward and attract future Rebels to its athletic family. 

While the COI did overturn the unofficial visit penalty, they upheld the postseason ban on findings of “lack of institutional control and recruiting inducements.” The Rebels are now in a second-year bowl ban in conjunction with NCAA penalties that were upheld.

Ole Miss began the appeal process of the COI’s final report Dec. 1, 2017. The NCAA investigation started in September 2012, with hundreds of interviews with student-athletes, coaches, boosters and other witnesses.

Ole Miss faced 21 allegations, including 15 Level 1 claims, which are considered the most serious. The university itself faced a Level 1 charge of lack of institutional control, while Freeze was charged with violating his head coach responsibility legislation. 

The university challenged portions of nine of the 21 allegations, including the charge of lack of institutional control. That appeal was not overturned, according to the IAC.  

With four games remaining on the slate, head coach Matt Luke said in a press conference Monday, Oct. 29 he and his squad look to finish the season strong. On Thanksgiving, the Rebels take the field for the last time against Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl.


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