Tunsil's stepfather says family got assistance to move to Oxford
The stepfather for former Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil alleges people with ties to the school improperly helped fund the family’s move to Oxford, Mississippi.
Lindsey Miller made the allegations public in an interview with Sports Illustrated. He told the outlet that he’s spent approximately 100 hours in interviews with NCAA investigators regarding accusations of impermissible benefits and that Ole Miss coaches and boosters helped finance a move to the city for Miller, Tunsil’s mother and his two sons.
In May, Ole Miss responded to the NCAA’s notice of allegations against it from its investigation and self-imposed scholarship reductions and other penalties while admitting to many of the NCAA’s accusations. The school also publicly asked the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to delay the case against the school because of new information that surfaced on the night of the NFL draft.
Tunsil sat out part of the 2015 season after he was found to have accepted impermissible benefits from who Miller termed as “agents.” Tunsil’s mother, Desiree Polingo, now-estranged from Miller according to SI, denied the allegations. Miller compared the experience with Ole Miss to the movie Blue Chips.
“It’s like that movie Blue Chips with Nick Nolte, with Shaquille O’Neal in it,” Miller says, referring to the 1994 fictional film about corruption in college sports. “It really is.”
The NCAA declined to comment, citing its policy of keeping silent on open cases. But Polingo denies Miller’s allegations, saying she and her estranged husband had enough money saved to move there on their own.
In a statement to SI through a lawyer, she said: “[Miller] continued receiving his pension, child support and military benefits. Why he keeps telling people that Ole Miss promised us something or did something wrong is beyond me, and frankly makes me very angry.”
Tunsil fell to No. 13 in the 2016 NFL draft as a video surfaced of him taking a hit of a bong with a gas mask on and screenshots of an apparent conversation with an Ole Miss employee regarding the payment of bills emerged. After he was selected by the Miami Dolphis, Tunsil said he “made a mistake” and replied “I’d have to say yeah” when he was asked if he was talking about taking money from a coach.
[Check out Dr. Saturday on Tumblr for entertaining things you won’t see on the blog]
The relationship between Tunsil and Miller is strained. The allegations of Tunsil’s acceptance of benefits happened after the two were allegedly involved in a dispute following an alleged incident between Miller and Tunsil’s mother. Miller said in June 2015 that Tunsil was “riding around with football agents” the night of their alleged altercation.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said after the draft that he was “shocked” to hear about the allegations regarding his staff and Tunsil. He’s also classified the 13 alleged violations Ole Miss football has made as “mistakes” rather than cheating.
Miller, who was dating Tunsil’s mother during the recruitment and married her in July 2014, says he provided the NCAA with text messages, e-mails and Facebook messages to back up his claims. He showed multiple Facebook and text messages to SI that appear to verify some of the claims in the NCAA Notice of Allegations. He also says he provided his bank and financial records to the NCAA, which helped investigators verify an $800 payment from a booster in August 2014. At one point, Miller says NCAA investigators took his three cell phones to capture all the data.
In one Facebook message, dated Feb. 8, 2013, Miller appears to write to Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin: “Plz do all the u you said to help me and desiree and my 2 sons I have been ole miss biggest fan 2 times he committed to ga I was there foor u be there for us when its time ok.”
Kiffin appears to have responded: “You know I will!”
SI said it was unable to independently verify the Facebook messages and both Kiffin and the NCAA declined to comment for the report citing the open NCAA investigation. Kiffin helped recruit Tunsil to Ole Miss.
Miller also alleges Kiffin introduced him to boosters who helped provide lodging during Tunsil’s freshman year. Ole Miss admitted in its response that Kiffin had helped arrange for free lodging and impermissible benefits for unnamed non-parental family members.
[Visit Dr. Saturday on Facebook for stories you might have missed and chat with the writers]
For more Ole Miss news, visit RebelGrove.com.
– – – – – –
Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter!