Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo
OXFORD-– They just can’t seem to shake the grim off in Oxford from their NCAA woes. The saga continues down in the Magnolia state for Ole Miss football yet again. Head Coach Matt Luke just can’t seem to catch a break where they can finally begin to rebuild and restore all that has been lost.
On Monday the university released a letter dated December 17,2018 from the NCAA that stated that Ole Miss football will vacate 33 wins over a six year period after the long drawn out investigation into the program more specifically its recruiting practices. The sanctions imposed will turnover 14 SEC conferences games which include Ole Miss’ 23-17 win over then ranked # 3 Alabama (Nicky Saban may have got the laugh after all), and the 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl victory over Pittsburgh.
While Ole Miss did appeal some of the 2017 charges ultimately the NCAA still put the hammer down to the program with 15 levied Level 1 violations in its final decision that was issued last November. When it was all said and done not even “THE NETWORK” couldn’t produce a Magnolia Miracle to lighten the blow even now. What it boiled down to is the NCCA charged the program with lack of institutional control as I stated primarily centered around their recruiting practices. Ole Miss was forced to to reduce scholarships and endure a bowl ban for 2018. Just when they thought their debt was paid they slap them with this the vacated wins just when it seem they seemed to have a leg up finally.
The vacated wins are linked directly to games which ineligible players participated as follows: four games in 2010, two in 2011, seven in 2012 and 2013, eight in 2014, and five in 2016. Just like that those games will have ceased to exist in the books of Ole Miss Football like they never existed. The stats and results will be removed from the Ole Miss records books. You can be sure that while those game may be erased that they will forever linger and haunt the program and its fans for years to come.
Ole Miss AD, Ross Bjork addressed the ruling Monday evening in Cleveland, Mississippi stating,“It’s the last part of this process .In a way it’s just a piece of paper because you saw those games.”
This has been one hell of a lesson for the program and many other programs in general not just football. I still have to say though that the NCAA needs reform because their are still many cases with in high profiled programs across the country that engaged in far worse practicing involving abuse and so forth and they along with their leadership walked away with a slap on the wrist .a fine and the ability to transfer to coach and place in other programs.
Here’s my thing Ole Miss got nailed because an athlete decided to face and issue that has plagued the sports for decades with the truth and owning his mistakes. While even some of his own leadership avoid until the truth was forced out.
I just think the world of collegiate athletics demands reforms and that starts with the NCAA. Enough is enough with the temporary solutions. If they want to clean up programs as they say they need to start with themselves first. I am not saying programs should not face consequences for violations but
1. The penalties should fit the violation
2. It should be done across the board not just targeting certain conferences and programs.
The biggest blow is usually to the program and those that are left to live in the aftermath. Like I said most of those involved with the violations at Ole Miss are coaching else where, playing elsewhere at some level. However, its individuals like Ole Miss head Coach, Matt Luke forced to try to find a way to keep the program going even or former players forced to make a tough choice to stay or find a new home in order to keep their own dreams alive.
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Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a Senior Editor and writer for Main Event Sports. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist, NFL Network content writer, and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ Misskyus2011