Ole Miss investigation: Highlights from the NCAA’s response to school’s rebuttal

Ole Miss Ross Bjork and Hugh Freeze
Spruce Derden/USA TODAY Sports

OXFORD, Miss. – In early June, Ole Miss made public its response to the NCAA’s notice of allegations received earlier in the year. Wednesday, the school made public what the NCAA enforcement staff had to say about that response.

The next step is a hearing before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions that has been set for September 11. Three days have been set aside for the hearing, though it could be concluded in less time.

Here are some highlights of the NCAA’s response:

Allegation No. 9: The enforcement staff stands firm in its allegation that former assistant Chris Kiffin and former administrative staffer Barney Farrar arranged for about $2,800 in merchandise from Rebel Rags to be given to prospects Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones and Lindsey Miller, the stepfather of former player Laremy Tunsil.

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The enforcement staff says that information it gleaned in interviews was “compelling and corroborative” and “showed the systematic way in which Kiffin and Farrar arranged the provision of free merchandise.”

Ole Miss has denied the allegation in its entirety, and Rebel Rags owner Terry Warren has filed a defamation lawsuit against Lewis, Jones and Miller.

Allegation No. 15: Lee Harris, owner of Funkys Pizza & Daiquiri Bar in Oxford, provided between $200 and $600 in cash payments and free food and drink to a prospect and friends and family.

The school has denied this allegation, but the enforcement staff says Harris made several statements that contradict the factual information in the record. They point to Harris’ phone records to prove he had conversations with Farrar, booster Arya Keyes, the prospect and his friends and family. These contradictions undermine Harris’ credibility, the enforcement staff says.

Harris provided documentation he says ruled out the possibility of him providing cash payments. The enforcement staff says the evidence he provided did not do that.

Allegation No. 16: A yet-unnamed booster provided between $13,000 and $15,600 to a prospect. Farrar initiated the contact and knew money was changing hands.

The school has agreed Farrar initiated the contact but says the prospect knowingly provided false information in saying he received money. In his separate response, the NCAA says Farrar disputes any knowledge of and/or involvement in this allegation.

RELATED: Lawyer for Barney Farrar: Ole Miss throwing former assistant AD ‘under the bus’ in ‘betrayal’

The enforcement staff asserts that the prospect is a “credible and reliable source of information and showed himself to be materially correct and consistent regarding the information he reported.”

The enforcement staff follows that assessment by saying Farrar and the boosters “lack credibility entirely.”

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