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Ole Miss self-imposes 2017 postseason ban for NCAA violations

Hugh Freeze
OLE MISS ATHLETICS

The NCAA has finished its investigation of the Ole Miss football program, and the school received an amended notice of allegations from the NCAA on Wednesday.

The school released a video response to the NOA.

(The university provided a transcript of the video on its website.)

AD Ross Bjork announced that Ole Miss has self-imposed a one-year postseason ban for the 2017 season. Bjork said the team was told of the ban Wednesday and “as you might imagine, this was difficult news to share with our young men and coaches.” The school also will forfeit $7.8 million in bowl revenue for 2017.

Coach Hugh Freeze said, “This team has overcome any many things and we will use this to make us stronger.”

Ole Miss has been charged with a lack of institutional control and Freeze is charged with violating head coach responsibility legislation. Ole Miss will contest those charges.

The NCAA can accept the school’s self-imposed penalties or could impose more. We still could be up to seven months away from a final decision: Ole Miss has 90 days to issue a response; the NCAA then has 60 days for a rebuttal, and after that a Committee on Infractions hearing is scheduled. The committee then has six weeks to render its final verdict.

The original NOA contained 13 violations; the new one has 21, including one allegation from the previous NOA that “has been expanded,” Bjork said.

Bjork said the school admits to three new allegations, including two Level I violations, which are the most serious. He said the school also says evidence exists to support some – but not all – of another new allegation. Bjork said the school will contest the other new allegations, four of which are Level I violations.

“I feel terrible for our players and staff who have to handle the consequences of the actions of a very few,” Freeze said in the video. “Unfortunately, these penalties are necessary so that this program to be responsible and move forward.”

Later, he said, “From the moment I arrived in December 2011, I have emphasized to all of my staff that our program is founded on certain core values – faith, attitude, mental toughness, integrity and love. … I am extremely disappointed to learn that any member of my staff violated any SEC or NCAA rules, and as the head coach, I regret those actions.”

Freeze pointed out that one of the core values is love: “That will be the one our players will need the most through this challenge. I know that the Ole Miss family will rally around them and love them through this journey.”

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