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Ole Miss and the NCAA: Breaking down the Deep State in Indianapolis

“Deep State” describes the permanent bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. who wield enormous power with zero transparency. They’re not elected, and because of archaic civil service rules, Deep-Staters like the IRS’s Lois Lerner and recently demoted Trump-hating FBI investigator Peter Strzok are almost impossible to fire or punish for their abuses of power.

But there’s another Deep State, one that has just orchestrated a huge injustice against Ole Miss and its fans. This Deep State is in Indianapolis, Indiana.

It’s the unaccountable bureaucrat lawyers and investigators who run the NCAA enforcement division. The NCAA does not follow traditional due process, and conducts its investigations and trials in secret—a latter-day Spanish Inquisition.

One of the NCAA’s primary Torquemadas is NCAA “investigator” Mike Sheridan, who clearly has personal animus against Ole Miss. Sheridan is to the NCAA Ole Miss investigations what discredited FBI agent Peter Strzok is to the many 2016 presidential election probes.

Sheridan’s underhanded attempt to ruin Ole Miss superstar receiver Donte Moncrief’s final college season and pro career is told in a remarkably unsettling July 26, 2017 article in SB Nation by Steven Godfrey.

Godfrey reports that in September 2013, NCAA’s Mike Sheridan, exhibiting tone-deaf bigotry, saw a photo of Donte Moncrief next to his older brother Spencer’s car, a used 2009 Dodge Charger. Sheridan immediately launched an investigation and notified Ole Miss that Moncrief would not be eligible to play the following week against, you guessed it, Alabama, because of Donte’s receipt of “impermissible benefits.”

Spencer Moncrief, a USM graduate with a good paying, steady job, had four days to prove he bought his own car, or else his brother’s senior season and his pro career was in jeopardy. Jackson superlawyer Jesse Mitchell uncovered a serious misdeed by Sheridan—misrepresenting himself by omission to a Gulfport hotel clerk to get records of Spencer’s travel. The clerk said in an affidavit later that he never would have given Sheridan the records if Sheridan had told the truth about who he was.

There’s more to the NCAA Deep State.

Just as the D.C. Deep State applied a different standard in the Clinton “special” investigation than it has in the Trump/Russia inquiry, the NCAA applied a double standard to MSU linebacker Leo Lewis’s various statements. They believed everything he said against Ole Miss, but said he lacked credibility when he said he got $10,000 in cash from MSU.

It’s not a stretch to figure out why NCAA chose to believe Leo Lewis’s damaging testimony against Ole Miss, but not against MSU. Xavier Athletic Director Greg Christopher, as of September 1, is the newly appointed chair of the NCAA Committee On Infractions (COI). It’s been reported that when Christopher was A.D. at Bowling Green in 2007, Dan Mullen was on his short list for BG’s next head coach, and that the two have maintained a friendly relationship since that time.

Moreover, SEC Commissioner and outgoing chair of NCAA’s COI, Greg Sankey, recused himself from the Ole Miss matter and says he had nothing to do with the grant of immunity to Leo Lewis. Regardless of the recusal, the NCAA investigators no doubt knew where Sankey’s allegiance lay.

Sankey attends football games in Starkville. He sheepishly admitted ringing a cowbell when his daughter graduated from MSU in 2015. He was the keynote speaker in Starkville for MSU’s fall graduation ceremony in December 2016. It’s fair to conclude Sankey is a MSU fan.

This past week Michigan’s jet landed at the Oxford airport. Word is that a half-dozen rising seniors and other current Ole Miss players were being poached by khaki-boy Jim Harbaugh, once again demonstrating how little class he has.

And speaking of having little class, it was difficult to read this past week about OM’s disgraced coach, hypocrite-for-the-ages Hugh Freeze, being so excited about interviewing to get back into college coaching. Freeze is primarily responsible for this mess, but the NCAA’s ruling left him virtually unscathed.

What if the NCAA appeals process, which hopefully is not as corrupt as their enforcement procedures, overturns the second year bowl band? Well, the NCAA says the appellate process takes four to six months, conveniently long enough for the November 30 decision to do its damage. Once again, the NCAA uses delay to inflict further harm on Ole Miss.

To paraphrase Ray Donovan, former Reagan Secretary of Labor who was vilified in the press as a fraud but later acquitted by a jury: Even if the sanctions are reduced, where does Ole Miss go to get its reputation back?

Not to mention its players.

Columnist Michael Henry graduated from Tulane University and University of Virginia Law School. He practiced civil and criminal law in Louisiana, was an elected District Attorney, and was an investment advisor in Natchez, Mississippi. He has published nine novels and now resides and writes in Oxford.
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Michael Henry
Columnist Michael Henry graduated from Tulane University and University of Virginia Law School. He practiced civil and criminal law in Louisiana, was an elected District Attorney, and was an investment advisor in Natchez, Mississippi. He has published nine novels and now resides and writes in Oxford.
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Comments(12)

  • Daisy Simson

    December 15, 2017

    Good article that explains the hypocrisy and corruption that exists within the NCAA.

  • Ddawg

    December 16, 2017

    Ole miss has had a culture of cheating for decades. Look at their history from back in the 90s when Brewer was there. Once a decade they get busted for cheating. Call it a witch hunt or injustice or whatever u want but the Landsharks openly thumbed their noses at the NCAA and deserve worse than they got so they should b later that’s all they got. Leo wasn’t the only proof. Good gosh. Was it his testimony that also took down their track and women’s Bball programs. No. It was the culture at ole miss. They think they can out-lawyer anyone and do what they want. They confuse school pride with anything to win.

  • Ddawg

    December 16, 2017

    Should b elated…autocorrect stinks

  • Steve Terry

    December 16, 2017

    Michael – You and other sports op-ed writers keep trying to draw analogies between the federal government and the NCAA. Simply put, the NCAA is NOT a government entity nor an oversight agency, It only exists at the discretion of college and university presidents and chancellors. These higher ed institutions use the NCAA as a tool to keep the dollars of collegiate sports flowing to their respective campuses – indeed, a strategic part of any institution’s marketing, brand and reputation. The chancellors and presidents of our esteem institutions control how the NCAA investigates, processes and doles out sanctions against other member institutions. Employees from every college and university sit on various NCAA committees and help draft the rules to which the member institutions agree to adhere by and uphold.

    Now – you are are obviously a gifted writer and decent enough attorney to have held a DA position, so you, perhaps not intentionally, mis-lead your readers when you do not make the clear distinction that the NCAA is NOT a liberal government entity that hands down judgements like King Solomon. Indeed, it appears that the NCAA investigators, especially in the OLE MISS case went way beyond the common man’s understanding of the NCAA rules. As fans we are outraged. As a chancellor or president, and depending on the school, you may to have answer questions from your fans and donors as to why their institution has been “singled out” and is facing additional sanctions. I suspect that the reasons we rarely see schools take on the NCAA is that schools would simply be arguing with themselves in the mirror. Again, the leaders at our institutions can collectively change the NCAA rules anytime they wish to do so – college presidents and chancellors are the NCAA!

  • RebelRouser

    December 16, 2017

    DDawg is a Mississippi State fan. And geneallt with an Ole Miss’ rival he is less than honest. Billy Brewer was the coach of the Rebels in the 80s, which was 30 years ago. Ole Miss is one of 4 SEC schools that has not had NCAA issues for over 24 years before this 5 year investigation. Of course, D Dawg doesn’t mention that Miss State just got off of probation for paying and providing a car to a recruit. Also, a current player was paid $10,000 to play for State while on probation. The ncaa elected not to pursue that claim. Can one say selective enforcement DDawg is biased and upset by MSU’s lack of success against Ole Miss and seeks an excuse, cheating culture, as a rationale to explain MSU’s inadequacies. And, DDAWG ignores the cheating culture at MSU as same doesn’t fit his narrative of Miss State being the Morally Superior University.

  • Ddawg

    December 18, 2017

    Actually Brewer coached there until 1993 aka the 90s. They were hit with sanctions TWICE during his tenure. 1987 and 1993. So that covered the 80s and 90s. Obviously, I’m an MSU fan. What tipped u off captain obvious? As for the talking points of justification for your cheating being that we also cheat…if the NCAA had proof we were cheating they’d com after us. Just like they did in the will Redmond cas. But there’s a diff in isolated booster involvement and multiple major violations. How does your AD still have a job? The punch you are drinking in th grove must be really strong

  • Ddawg

    December 19, 2017

    And of Mullen’s 9 yrs we finished higher in the West 7 of the 9 yrs. maybe ole mess should focus on something other than the egg bowl of which mullen still won 5 of 9. So spare me the talking points of state being lesser and ole miss being above us somehow because state has owned the last decade for the most part, even when u had top five classes, regardless how u got them.

  • Rebels Rule

    June 15, 2018

    Mullen got Leo to lie and Mullen was collaborating with the NCAA investigators. I am sure all three will wind up in jail where they belong. We know exactly what happened and will take this to the courtroom to punish the ones who lied.

  • bullet

    June 22, 2018

    They most certainly did lie and we have proof and people are singing on the others. They just might shut MSU football down.

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    July 6, 2018

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