Ole Miss Football: NCAA’s Process Flawed, Not Changing Anytime Soon

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 19: A view of two Mississippi Rebels helmets on the field prior to the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 19: A view of two Mississippi Rebels helmets on the field prior to the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

In the past four, almost five years, Ole Miss football fans have witnessed the Gestapo tactics of the NCAA. Their investigation into the Ole Miss football program has been questionable at best.

Ole Miss football fans were shocked when Steven Godfrey of SBNation released a story on Friday morning detailing the transparently opaque corruption of the NCAA’s investigation into the Ole Miss football program.

The corruption centers around the NCAA’s alleged coaching of Leo Lewis on what to say, his being awarded limited immunity, and the veil of secrecy placed over allegations pertaining to Lewis and the member institution he attends, Mississippi State.

The NCAA utilizes limited immunity to entice witnesses into cooperation. We’re just going to focus on Student-Athletes for this case, however. Simply put into layman’s terms, the NCAA agrees to not hinder an athletes eligibility to play as long as the athlete provides them with truthful, relevant information pertaining to their investigation.

What is Limited Immunity?

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Ole Miss Rebels Football

"“Limited immunity protects an individual (“prospective student-athlete, current or former student-athlete or current or former institutional employee”) from certain consequences for violating NCAA legislation. Limited immunity is an investigative tool that allows information to be elicited from an individual concerning his or her potential involvement in or knowledge of NCAA violations, with the understanding that the NCAA will not put the individual at-risk in the infractions process by bringing identified allegations against him or her.”"

"“Limited immunity protects individuals, not institutions. For example, in the scenario provided above, the grant of limited immunity protected Doe from NCAA consequences, such going through the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement process, for his involvement in the $10,000 impermissible benefit. However, Doe’s grant of limited immunity does not apply to State University or Smith (since he was not offered his own grant of limited immunity). Therefore, the enforcement staff could still allege the underlying violation in a notice of allegations, and the institution and Smith, if named as an at-risk individual, could still be subject to NCAA penalties, including that Doe participated while ineligible (if applicable).”"

The most common misconception with Limited Immunity is the notion that the immunity also covers the athletes member institution. This is simply not true. Usually, the NCAA’s investigators aren’t going to veer from their respective mission, so the potential violations at their member school aren’t expected to come up. However, in the case the prospective violations are brought to light, the athlete will most likely be asked about them. The athlete must be truthful to investigators when confronted about this. Remember, he will still be able to play, but his school could possibly be subject to NCAA sanctions.

For more information of Limited Immunity click here.

Transparently Opaque Corruption:

The NCAA’s bylaws specifically state their enforcement staff the ability to withhold information from an investigation into other member institutions. The enforcement staff does not have to turn over information found in other investigations even if the information could have an effect on the investigation. The NCAA has it written into their bylaws that they can be corrupt while undergoing investigations.

Exemplary Cooperation Does not Work:

This begs the question as to why Ole Miss decided to enact the exemplary cooperation plan of defense. Many called for Ole Miss to ‘Auburn’ it. This refers to Auburn essentially telling the NCAA investigators where they could shove their investigation relating to Cam Newton possibly receiving improper benefits.

Then Ole Miss Chancellor, Dan Jones, decided upon this course of action. He wanted to cooperate fully in hopes of a lighter sentence. It was not a smart idea, obviously.

Ross Bjork, the current ire of many fans’ disdain, had no part in deciding on exemplary cooperation. You can blame him for continuing the flawed plan if you wish, but it is a waste of time. Once Ole Miss had started on the exemplary cooperation route, they could not reverse course.

So, lets fast forward to draft night 2015. Ole Miss had publicly announced the investigation was over, a belief proven to be naïve and incorrect. The NCAA was still interviewing potential witnesses in its case against Ole Miss.

And then draft night happened. Laremy Tunsil’s social media accounts were hacked. First, his twitter was hacked to post a video of him smoking marijuana. Next, his Instagram was hacked. Screenshots of text messages were posted showing Tunsil asking Ole Miss coaches for money to pay bills.

The social media hacking gave the NCAA an excuse to publicly reopen their investigation, provided a distracting smoke-screen, and distracted Ole Miss.

Second NOA:

Most by now know what was in Ole Miss second NOA. Allegations of thousands of dollars in impermissible benefits to a prospective student-athlete who did not sign with Ole Miss. This is where Leo Lewis came in to play. Lewis is the prospective student-athlete. These weren’t the only new allegations. Ole Miss was hit with the dreaded Lack of Institutional Control and now former head coach, Hugh Freeze, was charged with Failure to Monitor his program.

More Corrupt NCAA:

More from Ole Hotty Toddy

Lewis, not Tunsil, was the key component behind Ole Miss second NOA. A Lewis told investigators he received $10,000 from a booster named Allen. Lewis also claimed to have received free merchandise from Rebel Rags. Rebel Rags is a Ole Miss memorabilia retailer.

Some of Lewis’ details regarding Rebel Rags are inconsistent. The inconsistencies consist of Lewis talking to a person who does not exist about free merchandise, and having non-existent security tags taken off of the merchandise.

Lewis’ teammate at Mississippi State, Kobe Jones, also had an inconsistency ridden testimony. Jones claimed to have been given free merchandise that did not exist at the time.

Other Schools Paid Also

After Lewis became the NCAA’s star witness, allegations involving Leo Lewis taking money from Mississippi State and other schools in addition to Ole Miss arose. The allegations gained traction when his mother said she asked LSU for $650,000 and Mississippi State for $80,000. I’ll go ahead right now and guarantee LSU would not even have paid Leonard the amount he has admitted to is decisively lower. Lewis has personally admitted to over $21,000 in impermissible benefits.

Allegedly, the NCAA launched an investigation into Mississippi State over his claims. The investigators quickly decided that Lewis was not credible in his claims against his own school. However, the NCAA investigators maintain Lewis is credible when it came to his claims against Ole Miss. These two statements contradict themselves; you can’t have it both ways.

Member Institutions Have Themselves to Blame:

The NCAA’s member institutions have only themselves to blame. They agreed to the NCAA’s blatantly corrupt bylaws and to follow them. Member institutions also agreed to allow the NCAA to have full control over punishment for breaking their rules. The NCAA never tried to not be corrupt, because they simply didn’t have too.

Next: Bold Season Predictions!

The NCAA and its member institutions were steadily raking in mega bucks, so all was good. Unfortunately, this model will probably continue to succeed as it always has. The NCAA never hindered in the wake of the Baylor and Penn State scandals. The NCAA will continue with an unscrupulous business model until both the NCAA and its member institutions bottom lines are impacted negatively. So, in all honesty, it will take the fans to incite change in the NCAA’s amoral process.