Friday afternoon, Chancellor Jeff Vitter and AD Ross Bjork publicly addressed the NCAA sanctions imposed upon Ole Miss.
The Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics met with media Friday afternoon and expressed anger and disappointment at the penalties imposed by the Committee on Infractions. Though the university expected the fines, lost scholarships, and probation, school officials were angered by the additional year bowl ban.
Chancellor Vitter stated the school will appeal the 2018 ban on postseason play. “The bowl ban is just not acceptable,” he said.
“We’re fighting for our students. They’ve had enough. They shouldn’t deserve any more. We’re also, frankly, bringing up concerns that might be of general use to our member institutions in the NCAA…“
Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter
Past cases unfairly used as “aggravating factors”
In the NCAA’s infractions report released today, the COI states that past cases against Ole Miss were considered as “aggravating factors” in their current punishment of the Rebels. On page 53 of the document, the NCAA writes:
“The institution’s two most recent cases occurred in 1986 and 1994, but they were similar to the present case and are accorded significant weight.”
Vitter expressed outrage that past NCAA cases involving Ole Miss factored into the current sanctions. He and Bjork both made it clear that a decades-old case should not be used in the penalty process for 2017.
Vitter and Bjork are (rightfully) upset that COI used decades-old cases against OM as "aggravating factors." The reports states: "The institution's two most recent cases occurred in 1986 and 1994, but they were similar to the present case and are accorded significant weight."
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) December 1, 2017
Next Step: appealing the bowl ban
Chancellor Vitter sent out an email Friday before the press conference indicating the Rebels will “vigorously appeal” the bowl ban for 2018. Bjork said Ole Miss has 15 days to appeal and will be sending out the appeal next week.
Bjork commented that other schools have already begun to “poach” some Ole Miss players; however, if players with more than one year of eligibility remaining are contacted, the university will report those schools for the violation.
Bjork also confirmed that players with more than one year of eligibility remaining who wish to transfer must still go through the normal transfer process with the school and NCAA, and will be required to sit out a year, upon their release and transfer.
Vitter expressed sadness at how the NCAA handled the case, saying he feels the school was left out at many key points along the way during the investigation.
“We did what we had to do,” Vitter said. “We are appealing this case because we did not receive due course.”
So, what do we make of it all? First–take a deep breath Rebel fans. The investigation that spanned over five years is now finally over. That, in and of itself, is reason to celebrate.
Yes, there are major sanctions. Yes, some are unexpected–while many seem ridiculous. However, this is the first step to returning to normalcy. Soon enough, this multi-year fiasco will be behind us.
The people who committed violations have been punished, and the school is doing its best to move on. It’s excruciating and heartbreaking for the current players and coaches–most of whom had nothing to do with any of this. But while it is a sad day for Ole Miss, it is also Day One of recovering and building for the future.
You can bet head coach Matt Luke and his staff and players will call upon the same resiliency they mustered this season as they do all they can to move forward.
(Feature image credit: Jake Evans)