Ole Miss hit with additional bowl-ban year

Former Ole Miss coach Hugh FreezeAP file

Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze will be suspended for two conference games during the 2018 season if he's employed as a head coach at another school.

The Rebels will also be on probation for three more years through November 30, 2020 and must pay a financial penalty of about $179,000.

In addition to the postseason ban and loss of scholarships, the NCAA will vacate wins where ineligible players were active, but the exact wins are not known at the time and are being assessed by the university.

Ole Miss officials are hoping that the NCAA tosses out the testimony of Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis, who told NCAA investigators that he received between $13,000 and $15,600 from an Ole Miss booster while the Rebels were recruiting him. That makes six scholarships per year for four years. Luke had the interim tag removed on Sunday when he was officially named head coach. The length of the penalty varies by coach. It essentially equals a black ball on them being hired by any school any time soon. The NCAA noted that former head coach Hugh Freeze "acknowledged that upon coming to MS, he was surprised by the "craziness" of boosters trying to insert themselves into his program". Freeze also resigned from the school when it was discovered he made several phone calls to an escort service on his university-issued cell phone.

The announcement by the NCAA brings to an end a long process that began with an investigation that began with women's track, basketball and academic issues relating to the Houston Nutt era Rebel football program (2008-11).

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Freeze says that he is disappointed that the NCAA found he was in violation of head coaching bylaws but that he will accept his punishment and not appeal any part of it. Former assistant David Saunders' show-cause runs for eight years. Former assistant athletic director Barney Farrar received a five year show-cause. The team also agreed to forfeit their share of SEC postseason revenues for this coming season. It is estimated that could cost them almost $8 million per year over the two-year bowl ban period.

Former Rebel Laremy Tunsil brought forth more allegations against members of the athletics department and football program on the night of the 2016 NFL Draft when addressing a question about the corruptness of the NCAA.

When asked bluntly if the NCAA is corrupt, both Vitter and Bjork pointed to a shift in the infraction committee's approach to the investigation, a change that led to the university being kept in the dark about vital information, they said.

The NCAA slapped the program with lack of institutional control and an additional bowl ban in 2018 on top of the self-imposed ban the school applied in 2017, which means that seniors in the program can transfer to any FBS program without penalty for the 2018 season.

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