The NCAA's Committee on Infractions ruled Friday that Ole Miss' postseason ban will go through next season, and the Rebels also received scholarship reductions.
The NCAA panel noted that this was the third case in 30 years involving Ole Miss boosters breaking rules, and said that even Freeze told them, "upon coming to MS, he was surprised by the "craziness" of boosters trying to insert themselves into his program".
NCAA spokeswoman Stacy Osborne told ESPN that Ole Miss seniors will be permitted to transfer to another school without penalty, due to the postseason ban. "It's clearly an excessive punishment and we are outraged at the unfair characterization of our football program and university culture involving athletics". "We will vigorously appeal the additional postseason ban".
The penalties are a result of a five-year investigation into the athletic program at Ole Miss, which was led by Hugh Freeze, who resigned before the season.
Because of the two-year bowl ban, NCAA rules state Ole Miss players could become free to transfer elsewhere without sitting out a season. The ruling said that Freeze promoted an atmosphere of rules compliance, but that he failed to monitor his staff. While my hope is to be a head coach again as soon as possible, this restriction does not limit, in any way, my ability to serve as an assistant coach.
"It is not necessary for an institution to obtain permission in writing to recruit a student-athlete at an institution that has been placed on probation with sanctions that preclude it from competing in postseason competition during the remaining seasons of the student-athlete's eligibility".
The announcement by the NCAA brings to an end a long process that began with an investigation that began with women's track, basketball and academic issues relating to the Houston Nutt era Rebel football program (2008-11).
Ole Miss reached the.500 mark after beating Mississippi State 31-28 on Thanksgiving.
Matt Luke was recently named Ole Miss' head coach after spending the past season as the interim. The resignation came after the university found records of phone calls from Freeze to an escort service on his school-issued cell phone. Bjork said the appeal will be launched "right away".
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