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College football: Mississippi self-imposes one-year ban while NCAA alleges new violations

Hugh Freeze
Coach Hugh Freeze and Mississippi will not be playing in a bowl game next season.
(Bruce Newman / Oxford Eagle via AP)

Mississippi’s football team will not play in the postseason next year. The Rebels might be facing more penalties, too, now that the NCAA says the program has committed more than 20 rules violations over the last several years. 

Ole Miss officials said Wednesday that the university has received an amended Notice of Allegations from the NCAA that includes eight new football violations, including six that are Level I, which the governing body deems the most serious. 

The school says the NCAA’s new charges include cash payments and other improper benefits to recruits from boosters — in one case up to $15,600 — and involve previous staff members who are no longer with the program. 

Ole Miss did not release the new NOA, but discussed its contents in a 21-minute video posted on YouTube on Wednesday. The eight new violations are on top of 13 previous violations from the NCAA’s prior NOA in 2016. 

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One of the previous 13 charges was upgraded from failure to monitor, a Level II violation, to the much more serious Level I charge of lack of institutional control. 

The final tally: 21 NCAA violations, including 15 classified as Level I. 

As a result, the school self-imposed a one-year postseason football ban for the 2017 season. More penalties could be coming. 

“The additional allegations announced today are serious,” Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork said in the video. “But we will vigorously defend the university against those allegations we believe are not appropriately supported, including that we lacked institutional control and that our head football coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance or monitor staff in our football program.” 

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The school says it intends to fight several of the new charges. Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter, Bjork and football Coach Hugh Freeze all discussed the NCAA case in Wednesday’s video. 

“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. The fifth-year coach added that the penalties were necessary so that the program could “move forward.” 

The university has 90 days to send an official response to the NCAA.

Etc.

Nebraska receivers coach Keith Williams was sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years’ probation and fined $1,000 after pleading no contest to third-offense drunken driving. Williams is to report to jail March 3, but a Lancaster County judge said Williams could apply for house arrest. Prosecutors requested that Williams go to jail because he never did time for previous DUI convictions. Williams’ driver’s license also has been revoked for five years, but he can apply for an ignition interlock after 45 days. …

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed legislation giving Arkansas’ Parks and Tourism Department control of War Memorial Stadium and renewed his call for the Arkansas Razorbacks to play football there each year. The Razorbacks will play one game at Little Rock’s 54,000-seat stadium this year and next, but the school said Wednesday there is no timeline for a discussion or decision on games after 2018. The school has said it makes more money at its on-campus 72,000-seat stadium.


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