Ole Miss announced on Wednesday that it's self-imposing a one-year football postseason ban for the 2017 season after receiving a new NCAA notice of allegations that includes 8 additional rules violations.
The NCAA has charged Ole Miss with a lack of institutional among 21 total allegations regarding its football program. The school will also forfeit its share of SEC postseason football revenue.
School officials addressed the action and said the NCAA's investigation is complete in a video posted on Wednesday. Part of the probe centered on Miami Dolphins 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil. Two of Tunsil's social media accounts were hacked the night the Dolphins made Tunsil the No. 13 overall pick, one of which allegedly implicated Ole Miss in potential improper benefits for Tunsil.
Tunsil acknowledged being paid by the school at his formal post-draft news conference, resulting in an existing NCAA investigation to branch in a new direction. Although Tunsil's remarks sparked a new turn in the probe, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said none of the new allegations are related to draft night.
"The 2016 season (NCAA) notice contained 13 football-related football charges. There are now 21 football allegations, eight of which are new, and one of the prior allegations has been expanded. None of the new allegations relate to NFL draft night," Bjork said.
New allegations include improper benefits to recruits, and Bjork noted that several of them did not ultimately sign to play for the Rebels. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze supported the school's self-imposed penalties, but defended himself against a charge that he did not properly monitor his staff.
"While it is extremely difficult to ask current players to suffer penalties based on the actions of others, I agree with the decision to self-impose a one-year bowl ban by our university," Freeze said. "Contrary to the allegations, I have demonstrated throughout this entire process that I have a strong record of promoting compliance and monitoring my staff. I look forward to presenting that evidence to the committee on infractions."
Among the more serious charges are that Ole Miss lacked institutional control, which results in stiffer penalties than the initial "failure to monitor" charge, which preceded and was unrelated to Tunsil's remarks.
"We will vigorously defend the University against those allegations that we believe are not appropriately supported, including that we lacked institutional control, and that our head coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance or monitor staff in our football program," Bjork said.
Freeze's spectacular recruiting class of 2014 raised the profile of the program and helped the Rebels reach consecutive appearances in the Peach and Sugar Bowls. That group included three first-round picks in 2016: Tunsil, WR Laquon Treadwell and DL Robert Nkemdiche, as well as Evan Engram, one of the top tight ends in this year's draft. It was that class, however, that was a big part of the NCAA's attention.
As Ole Miss has learned, the wrong kind of attention.