Sources: Mississippi under investigation for rules violations in multiple sports

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi athletic program is under investigation by the NCAA for potential rules violations in multiple sports.

Athletic director Ross Bjork confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that Ole Miss “is working with the NCAA” in an ongoing investigation. Bjork said the school has not received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, nor does it have a date set for a hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. He declined further comment.

Mississippi athletic director Ross Bjork talks to the media during a press conference. (AP)
Mississippi athletic director Ross Bjork talks to the media during a press conference. (AP)

Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports the Mississippi football and women’s basketball programs are subjects of the investigation. One source with knowledge of the probe said the bulk of the potential violations relate to women’s basketball. The source said the current football staff of head coach Hugh Freeze is not believed to be implicated in any major violations, and that much of the football inquiry dates back to actions by a previous Ole Miss staff. Freeze is in his third year at the school. The source said there have been no new allegations, all NCAA interviews have completed and the school is waiting for the NCAA Department of Enforcement's next step.

Bjork fired women’s basketball coach Adrian Wiggins and two of his assistants in October 2012 after alleged wrongdoing came to light. The football investigation also has been ongoing for more than a year, multiple sources said.

Yahoo Sports filed a Freedom of Information request with Mississippi on Sept. 2 requesting all correspondence between the school and the NCAA Department of Enforcement between Sept. 1, 2013, and Sept. 1, 2014. The request was returned Sept. 26 showing 19 secondary or Level III violations in that time period, with names and affected sports redacted.

The next Committee on Infractions hearings are scheduled for Oct. 16-18, multiple sources said. A Georgia men’s swimming case is on the docket for that meeting, a source said, but there could be additional cases heard. Mississippi is not on the agenda for that meeting.

Much of the college football world is focused on the state of Mississippi this week. The undefeated, 11th-ranked Rebels host undefeated, third-ranked Alabama and undefeated, sixth-ranked Texas A&M visits undefeated, 12th-ranked Mississippi State on the same Saturday afternoon. In their eternal struggle to move up the Southeastern Conference pecking order, the state’s two programs have landed on the NCAA blotter repeatedly.

Mississippi’s football program has been sanctioned three times for major violations. In 1994, the Rebels were given a one-year television ban, a two-year postseason ban and four years probation, along with scholarship reductions. In 1986, Ole Miss was given a one-year ban from both television and the postseason, along with two years probation. And in 1959, the program was put on a one-year probation.

Mississippi State has had four major football infractions cases that resulted in sanctions. Last year the Bulldogs were put on two years’ probation, fired an assistant coach and disassociated a booster in relation to improper benefits given to a recruit. In 2004, the program was given a one-year postseason ban, scholarship cuts and recruiting restrictions. In 1996, Mississippi State was put on a year’s probation, with scholarship and recruiting reductions. And in 1975, the program received a two-year TV ban and two-year bowl ban.

Mississippi State also has had two other major infractions cases that resulted in sanctions against other sports, one in 1986 and one in 1967.