Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is mulling whether to take legal action against his former employer because of the way he says the school attempted to divert scrutiny from current coach Hugh Freeze and onto Nutt in the wake of revelations about NCAA violations.
Nutt said he was wronged and is seeking recourse, including a public apology from the university and an acknowledgement that the university attempted to portray him as a bigger part of the problem than he actually was.
“It hurts you,” Nutt told Yahoo Sports. “It devastates you.”
Ole Miss has not responded to Nutt, which could lead to a defamation suit against the school, his lawyer, Thomas Mars, told Yahoo.
“This was a smear campaign,” Mars said. “If it weren’t so deceitful and morally wrong, it would probably go down in college football history as one of the best trick plays ever.”
A statement from Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork in January 2016 — one day after Yahoo reported that Ole Miss had received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, which charged the athletic program with major violations — said “many of the allegations (date) back to the former football staff in 2010.”
When the school released the NOA in May 2016, there were 13 football violations but just four dated to Nutt’s tenure; the other nine occurred during Freeze’s tenure.
Nutt told Yahoo that he believes the initial portrayal of the NOA has negatively impacted his ability to get another coaching job.
“My name wasn’t mentioned in the report but my name’s on the ticker (on TV),” Nutt said. “My name is thrown out there a lot. It’s a frustrating thing. I’m 59 years old. It’s not like I’m going to get the next big job. But you miss ball so much. … It’s just bad when you get hit from all sides and blindsided by it.”
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