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Six former Mississippi football players who transferred to other teams claim they were misled by the program about the severity of an NCAA investigation that ultimately led to two postseason bans and three years of probation, according to a CBS Sports report.
The six former players — all of whom have appealed to the NCAA for immediate eligibility at their new schools — cite text messages sent to recruits by Ole Miss staff saying that the NCAA violations only occurred before ex-Rebels coach Hugh Freeze was hired in 2012.
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, Houston safety Deontay Anderson, Alabama-Birmingham linebacker Jarrion Street, Georgia Tech offensive tackle Jack DeFoor, Central Florida wide receiver Tre Nixon and Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson will all be forced to sit out the 2018 season without an NCAA waiver.
Freeze, who resigned in July for off-the-field issues, texted: “Good PR response. Get this in the recruits hands.”
The NCAA, however, determined that the violations were far from minimal as Ole Miss was accused of 15 Level I violations. The NCAA investigation discovered that six Ole Miss football staffers and boosters were actually involved in the violations, and that the Rebels lacked institutional control by fostering “an unconstrained culture of booster involvement in football recruiting.”
Thomas Mars, an Arkansas-based attorney assisting the six players with their case to the NCAA, told ESPN that players should become immediately eligible based on an NCAA rule that grants immediate eligibility if student-athletes transferred because of “egregious behavior” by a staff member at their former school. Mars said the players operated under “deliberately false pretenses through a sophisticated misinformation campaign” by Freeze and Ole Miss. He argued that the coaches had an organized effort to “mislead the 2016 recruits and their parents about the official allegations the NCAA had made just 10 days before national signing day.”