The saga surrounding the NCAA’s punishment of Ole Miss keeps getting crazier.
Rebel Rags, a clothing store involved in the NCAA’s investigation into the school, filed suit Tuesday against the NCAA, its investigator in the case and current Florida coach Dan Mullen and current Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin. Both Mullen and Stricklin were at Mississippi State at the time of the infractions.
The suit, according to the Clarion-Ledger, accuses the defendants of defamation, conspiracy and disparagement and continues the accusation the parties conspired against Ole Miss and the store.
“Simply put, the claims against Mr. Stricklin are wholly devoid of merit,” Stricklin’s Starkville-based attorney, Charles Winfield, wrote in a statement, “and there is simply no good faith basis in either law or fact for Mr. Stricklin to have been made a party to such a case.”
Charles Merkel, a Clarksdale-based attorney who represents Rebel Rags, said this case was essentially filed as a precaution against a potential argument that the statute of limitations will run out.
As you may know, statements in the case against the school were made by players who are now at Mississippi State. The players, who were recruits at the time, said Rebel Rags gave them free clothing. That’s an impermissible benefit, of course, and it was arranged by Ole Miss staffers.
Last summer, Rebel Rags filed a suit against the two players for their role in the case.
Ole Miss had said the NCAA’s case hinged primarily on the testimony from one of the players, Leo Lewis, and his testimony was incomplete and inconsistent. That didn’t work out well for the school, which was slapped with a bowl ban for the 2018 season after self-imposing a bowl ban in 2017. The additional year of no bowl eligibility has led to the transfer of QB Shea Patterson, who is heading to Michigan. The NCAA is expected to rule this summer if Patterson will be eligible immediately with the Wolverines.
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