Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt’s lawsuit against the school and its athletics foundation was dismissed Wednesday by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr. granted a motion by the university, its athletic foundation, and the state’s Board of Trustees to dismiss Nutt’s lawsuit, which cited a breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing.
The one-page filing said the federal court “lacks jurisdiction under the pleadings as presented.” Because the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, it can be refiled.
Last week, Nutt’s attorneys, Thomas Mars and Walter Morrison, sent a settlement proposal to the university in the case, though no agreement was met.
“All the lawyers in this case know we could have easily avoided this jurisdictional defense and stayed in federal court by just suing the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation and dropping Ole Miss and the Board from the lawsuit,” Mars said in a statement following the dismissal. “However, we wanted to make sure that Ross Bjork and the university had a chance to fully participate in this lawsuit.
“Between Bubba Morrison saying I’d read too many John Grisham novels and the University’s recent decision to fire Hugh Freeze, I concurred with Bubba’s suggestion that we just oblige Ole Miss, ask the court to grant their jurisdictional motion, and file an updated state court lawsuit next week with more details than those that were known to us when we first filed suit.
“We’d both like to congratulate the Ole Miss lawyers and hope they’ll give some more thought to our settlement proposal before we refile in state court next week.”
In the settlement proposal, Ole Miss was asked to pay $500,000 to fund an integrity for college sports commission and send an apology to Nutt, the latter of which he requested from the school before the lawsuit was filed on July 12.
Ole Miss filed a motion to dismiss the suit against the school and its board of trustees on July 29. Nutt said the school attempted to portray him as a bigger part of the investigation than what actually turned out to be the case.
The years-long NCAA investigation says the Ole Miss football program committed 21 rules violations over several years, including 15 deemed Level I – the worst possible offense. Nutt was coach from 2008-11, when only four violations (all Level I) allegedly took place.
Hugh Freeze resigned as Ole Miss coach on July 20 when an open records request filed by Mars revealed that he had called an escort service on Jan. 19, 2016 on his university-issued phone. A deeper investigation into Freeze’s phone records made by the school found a “pattern of misconduct.”
Freeze was the Rebels’ coach when most of the alleged NCAA violations took place.
(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)
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