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Executive Summary

This paper is devoted to the problem of NCAA infraction. Thus, the object of the paper is Ole Miss Case. The first section of the paper is an introduction that reveals peculiarities of the NCAA and Ole Miss Program. Moreover, it establishes the objectives for further analysis. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is an organization that specializes in monitoring and controlling sports institutions, colleges and departments and checking sports programs provided to the universities, colleges and individual athletes.

The second part of the paper analyzes Ole Miss Case that is based on the violations by football players that put their reputation and the reputation of Ole Miss Program under threat. The third section reveals possible penalties that might be given to a school after carrying out thorough investigations and conclusions that might be made by the NCAA Committee. The fourth part of the paper is devoted to the possible appeals from the school related to Ole Miss Case. Moreover, this paper expresses a personal opinion on the policy of the NCAA Committee and activities of Ole Miss Football Program.

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Introduction

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCA) is a non-profit association that regulates athletes of organizations, conferences, institutions and individuals. Moreover, the NCAA specializes in athletic programs of many universities and colleges in Canada and the United States. The strength of the NCAA is that it helps college student-athletes. The NCAA has its legislation and rules and checks whether they are followed. It means that the NCAA has staff that is responsible for the detection of frauds, illicit booster consumption, and other unethical activities. The NCAA Committee makes a decision on the necessary sanctions and penalties for the violation of the established rules and regulations. The harshest penalty of the NCAA, known as the ‘Death penalty,’ bans schools from participating in a particular sporting event. Moreover, the maximum penalty can amount 60 million dollars (NCAA, 2016). It means that the NCAA Committee is responsible for ethical activities and decisions in sport.

Ole Miss Program regulates athletes in many sports (baseball, basketball, football, softball, rifle, volleyball, tennis, soccer, and golf). The program refers to athletics departments and is available for sports organizations and students-athletes. Moreover, it is popular with the students of the University of Mississippi. However, the NCAA was interested in investigating Ole Miss Football Program to detect the possible violations by Ole Miss’ football team the Rebels. One should mention that the Rebels football team is a successful football team that represents the University of Mississippi. However, some football players fuel suspicion about the violation of the NCAA’s rules and regulations (Ole Miss, 2016). Consequently, this paper aims to analyze Ole Miss Case based on Rebels football team, describe possible appeals and penalties, and demonstrate a personal opinion on this case.

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Analysis of the Case

Since 2012, the NCAA has been investigating cases of academic fraud and unethical activities in the Mississippi institutions involved in sports and sports programs. Consequently, they showed much interest in the athletic department of the University of Mississippi, namely in the predisposition of its sportsmen to illicit booster consumption. This case was challenging and full of mystery as the college administration, coaches, and boosters had hidden NCAA’s claims and suspicions from the society and mass media. Thus, they reinforced the interest of the NCAA Committee to the investigation and demonstrated that they violated ethical principles. The NCAA started its investigation on a celebratory day for Ole Miss, particularly the football program. However, instead of celebration and festive mood, the program was shadowed by suspicion and intense interest of the NCAA in it. Thus, the success of three Rebel players was darkened by NCAA inspection (Thamel, 2016).

One should mention that sportsmen were boasting of their illicit booster consumption, publishing posts to Twitter. Laremy Tunsil released a video where he smoked marijuana hiding his face with the mask. However, he later admitted that this was his video. It means that he knew about possible punishment; therefore, he had hidden his face. Tunsil was one of the best sportsmen in the Ole Miss Football Program. The information that raised the interest of the NCAA also leaked from Tunsil’s Instagram account. There was a screenshot of a conversation between Laremy Tunsil and Ole Miss’ representative. The football player asked for 305 dollars so he could pay his mother’s water and electric bills. It means that Laremy Tunsil received money from Ole Miss Program. Moreover, the NCAA revealed other violations of Ole Miss Program (Ole Miss, 2016).

In 2012, NCAA’s investigation was related to the women’s basketball program (Thamel, 2016). It is obvious that violations can occur in different sports programs. One should say that 13 of them referred to football programs. It means that they included the major violations. Extra benefits could be estimated at $15,000 for football players, as well as their families. Moreover, coacher and boosters were also involved in the abuse of program’s benefits (Thamel, 2016). It is necessary to say that Ole Miss Case is not solved yet. The experts state that it can be decided in 2017 when the NCAA provides the conclusions of its investigation (Thamel, 2016). Moreover, Ole Miss Case will be heard before the NCAA Committee that investigated infraction. It means that football players can damage the image of the program and the athletic department of the University of Mississippi. It is impossible to determine the level of penalties and sanctions the college will incur. However, it is evident that the charge will be severe.

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The NCAA has conducted many interviews to find as many witnesses as possible in the investigation of this case. First of all, they interviewed Lindsey Miller, who was Tunsil’s stepfather. The man reported on the benefits that Tunsil and the members of his got from Ole Miss Football Program. One should say that Miller was an aggrieved party. Thus, he revealed everything as he had been interviewed by the NCAA for 100 hours. Moreover, the man told that Ole Miss had a sophisticated system that arranged for the football player and his relatives the ways to get money, loans, free living at residences and hotels around Oxford. Furthermore, the man told that he also received benefits from the program thanks to financial aid from boosters and coaches (Paulling, 2016). For instance, he used the money from the program to move with his wife and sons to Oxford. Therefore, it is evident that his family used all advantages from Ole Miss Program.

Miller did not deny the fact of power abuse and corruption in the football program. Thus, the NCAA took this evidence into consideration to reveal other violations. Another witness was his wife and Tunsil’s mother. However, she did not confirm his information and told that their family did not derive any benefits from football program. It is obvious that she protected her son. One should mention that all witnesses were interviewed by the NCAA in the presence of the lawyer. Polingo, Tunsil’s mother, argued that Ole Miss’ administration did not promise them anything and her husband was wrong as their family lived on military benefits, child support, and Miller’s pension. It is necessary to say that Miller was not a reliable witness as he had conflicts with Tunsil. Moreover, he initiated collaboration with the NCAA himself. Furthermore, Miller sued to the court against Tunsil for causing emotional distress; therefore, his mother asked for divorce (Paulling, 2016).

One should say that the nature of NCAA investigations can also be questioned as they often rely on information from biased parties. It means that information obtained by the organization is not always objective. Tunsil rejected the evidence provided by Miller. Moreover, he insisted that the NCAA should rely on a more reliable source of information than his stepfather’ comments. Miller’s testimony might have been aimed to revenge Tunsil. It is necessary to say that the football player has admitted twelve of the thirteen breaches in football found by the NCAA’s investigators (Staples, 2016). The school discusses the level of severity of sanctions from the NCAA. However, the penalty is still unknown as the NCAA continues its investigation. One should mention that the case of NCAA against Ole Miss Football Program is a serious football incident that can result in imposition of penalties for infraction and violation of sports rules and regulations. Not without reason, it has being investigated for a long time.

Michael Buckner, NCAA’s attorney, states that it is a very unethical situation as not only one football player is involved in the incident but also coaches and boosters of Ole Miss. Consequently, these violations and infractions tarnish the reputation of Ole Mill and the image of sport in general. As the Rebels are a successful football team, they are extremely interested in saving their image and reputation, which is also essential for the school and Ole Miss Program. Furthermore, the NCAA questions success of the Rebels. The fact that the team became number one ranked team very quickly gave rise to suspicion. Thus, the NCAA Committee expressed distrust and suspicion about how the Rebels managed to succeed in the national programs for the most skillful football players in a short period of time (Thamel, 2016). Moreover, it investigated public opinion about the facts of violation from the side of the football players. However, the coaches and boosters argued that all footballers were well-trained, and the luck and success were on their side.

Miller has provided the portrait of Tunsil’s recruitment in a very complex way, which also expresses suspicion and cannot be objective. He states that his ex-stepson was totally supported by Ole Miss Program. Thus, he provides Facebook chatting, e-mail, and text messages to the NCAA Committee. Many Facebook messages given by Miller verified NCAA’s claims. Furthermore, the man revealed information about his son’s financial accounts to the NCAA Committee. That information helped the NCAA to verify $800 transfer from Ole Miss Program. Miller said that NCAA’s investigators analyzed data from his three phones to receive additional information. However, the NCAA Committee should not investigate relationships between Miller and Tunsil but incidents within the Rebels, behavior and conflicts in the team, whether coordinated by coaches and boosters or independent.

One should say that the NCAA Committee has spent much time trying to corroborate Miller’s claims and evidence. Moreover, NCAA’s investigators came three or four times to Mississippi to visit Miller and demonstrate the seriousness of this case. Furthermore, Miller admitted that collaboration was tiresome for him. It is also necessary to say that Freeze and Ole Miss officials admitted some violations. However, they were not as severe as NCAA’s investigators stated. Freeze, a couch at the Rebels, said that there was some misconduct, but they did not deserve the death penalty that could be imposed by the NCAA Committee. The challenge of Ole Miss Program was that it did not monitor its football players in a proper way.

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Ole Miss Case exacerbated due to the conflict between Miller and Tunsil. It means that the sports case was aggravated by personal hostility. It was a sign for NCAA’s investigators that there was some truth in Miller’s evidence. If Tunsil was right, he would not react on Miller’s claims. As a result both Miller and Tunsil were arrested. Consequently, the NCAA should not take into consideration their statements. Freeze as a coach defended the image and reputation of Laremy Tunsil, stating that he was proud of him and his standing up for a good name of his family. Moreover, it was evident that Miller was not in good relationships with Tunsil’s mother.

One should also mention that it is suspicious why Miller did not report on the abuse of power and authority by Tunsil earlier but did this only now when he divorced with his mother. It is evident that Miller had the personal hostility to the football player. However, the NCAA Committee was consistent with Miller’s claims related to free lodging that totaled $2, 253. The problem is that Miller should also bear responsibility for hiding this information. As to Freeze, he states that the NCAA Committee should look through every accusation and check them thoroughly. One should say that Ole Miss Case also demonstrates efficacy of the NCAA methods used in handling major investigations. College football is very popular, and it should be promoted according to the established rules and regulations.

Ole Miss Case demonstrates that many college football programs require checking and monitoring as school members can exploits athletes unfairly. It is evident that public perception of extra benefits received by athletes is adequate. However, the NCAA is not going to change its rules and regulations that demand ethical decisions in sports events. The NCAA regards Ole Miss Case as a significant instance of academic fraud. As for the society, it does not see anything criminal in the activities of the school and football program. It means that Ole Miss Case is the conflict of the evolving ideas and the old ones promoted by the NCAA Committee.

Although there are violations of Ole Miss Football Program, there is no information about the severity of punishment due to existence of a new penalty structure provided by the NCAA Committee. Consequently, there is some intrigue in this case.

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Penalties

It is difficult to predict what penalties can be imposed by the NCAA Committee. However, they will be related to the reputation and image of the school, Ole Miss Program, and the Rebels. Ole Miss is not likely to avoid NCAA’s sanctions as their violations refer not only to sports rules and regulations but also to gaining personal benefits from the football program. The experts state that Ole Miss Case should be classified as a major or secondary violation. It is placed on the scale of Level 1, the most serious one. Consequently, this football case falls under a new penalty structure for infraction cases.

NCAA’s attorney believes that Ole Miss’ violations should be regarded as referring to Level 1 violations that include eight violations in football and 16 overall. The seriousness of these violations lies in the fact that boosters and coaches are involved. Consequently, there is a possibility that they will receive ‘the death penalty’. One should mention that the school admitted 27 of 28 violations alleged by the NCAA. Thus, there is high probability that Ole Miss will not appeals. Freeze as a coach could mitigate the NCAA’s case, but only 9 of 13 violations are related to his practice. The former coach Houston Nutt is responsible for four allegations, including some frauds. As the NCAA divides all violations into major and secondary ones, the Rebels’ violations can be regarded as major. It means that they are not controlled and monitored by the school and Ole Miss Program.

Ole Miss Program can face NCAA’s sanctions that presuppose placing the institution on the probation time in addition to other penalties. However, now it is possible to predict them as the NCAA is characterized by the enormous bureaucracy. Moreover, ‘the death penalty’ can be imposed only when the violations are repeated. Furthermore, the NCAA Committee has the power to exclude the University of Mississippi from participating in football. Without a doubt, it will be the severest punishment for the football players and Ole Miss Program. The main thing for the school and football program is to follow all rules and regulations to receive minimal penalty. Moreover, the school can incur a penalty of as much as 60 million dollars (NCAA, 2016). It is evident that any punishment will be harmful to the school and its football program.

Appeals

If Ole Miss Case was based on drug abuse, the school could request for appeals that are heard by the NCAA Committee. However, the problem is that appeals cannot bring positive effects. If Ole Miss Program and its football players can prove their reputation and commitment to sport regulations and rules, then they will not be sanctioned, and the NCAA Committee will pay compensation to the school and sportsmen. The Rebels can ask for appeals if the information presented by the witnesses is wrong and does not correspond to the real state of affairs. Additionally, one should say that the NCCA Committee is also criticized for earning money with the help of lawsuits and penalties (Staples, 2016).

Moreover, the NCAA Committee takes much time for investigation. As a result, Ole Miss Program can find ways to justify some violations. The NCAA Committee can also violate the federal antitrust laws. It means that its reputation is not perfect. However, if the school and Ole Miss violate rules, they should not spend money on attorneys but rather find ways to revitalize their reputation and receive less severe punishment for the violations. It is necessary to say that false appeals can totally damage the reputation of the school, Ole Miss Program, and the Rebels. Consequently, it is better to admit mistakes and find ways to correct them and demonstrate social responsibility for unethical activities (Thamel, 2016).

As the investigation has not been finished yet, Ole Miss Program should follow all rules to protect its reputation. Moreover, its football players should not be involved in any scandals depicted in mass media. It is evident that any cases of fraud are unacceptable in the current situation.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, it is necessary to say that Ole Miss Case is not fully investigated by the NCAA yet. It is evident that there are violations from the side of the Rebels, school, and Ole Miss Program. However, it is obvious that the investigation by the NCAA can also be criticized as it pays much attention to the claims made by the stepfather of one of football players. Such organization as the NCAA should not rely on such dubious sources of information. If all facts are approved, the Rebels will receive the death penalty, which is the severest penalty from the NCAA. However, if the Rebels do not agree with the conclusion, they can make an appeal to revitalize their image and reputation.

In my opinion, Ole Miss Case is ambiguous. First, there is no the direct evidence of fraud and violations of rules established by the NCAA. Facebook messages and Miller’s claims are subjective sources of information. Second, Ole Miss Program should control and monitor its football players and make them committed to the regulations. Its weakness is that there is no collaboration and cooperation between the school, football program, and sportsmen. Third, Ole Miss Case is based not only sports violations but also involves a family drama of one of the football player. It is obvious that this information should be not taken into consideration by the NCAA Committee. In addition, both sides should change their patterns of behavior. Ole Miss Program should respect rules and regulations and demonstrate corporate responsibility. The NCAA Committee should use only reliable sources of information or refuse from the accusation.

I believe that Ole Miss Case proves that college football is a popular area that presupposes many violations. However, its reputation can be easily damaged by the negative corporate image. Moreover, the NCAA should also change its policy as it is based on the old-fashioned ideals. The case should be investigated more carefully by the NCCA Committee as the current evidence is not totally objective. Finally, coaches, football player, and boosters of Ole Miss Football Program should admit cases of fraud and unethical decisions to start everything from a new page.