There are inevitably more twists and turns in Ole Miss' ongoing NCAA case, as well as the sudden resignation of now-former coach Hugh Freeze. Regarding the former, the Rebels' upcoming Committee on Infractions hearing may have gotten a lot more interesting.
Per Mark Schlabach of ESPN, "attorneys representing Ole Miss and its former coaches and administrators who have been accused of violating NCAA rules" have asked that two Mississippi State football players, Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones, be required to attend the hearing, which is likely to take place in either August or September. Specifically, Lewis and Jones may be of interest in answering questions from the committee.
The two players are at the center of a lawsuit filed in June by Rebel Rags, an Oxford-based clothing store specializing in Ole Miss memorabilia. Rebel Rags is claiming "defamation, slander, conspiracy and commercial disparagement stemming from false statements made to the NCAA and have since been published in the (university's response to the) notice of allegations."
In particular, Lewis "accused Rebels boosters and former coaches of arranging for him to receive free transportation, lodging, food and meals and memorabilia and clothing from Rebel Rags," per ESPN. Lewis also claims an "unnamed booster provided him with $13,000 to $15,000 in cash payments to sign with Ole Miss."
Lewis was Mississippi State's second-leading tackler in 2016.
It is not known yet whether Lewis and Jones have actually received a notice to appear at the infractions hearing. The duo was previously provided partial immunity by NCAA investigators before being interviewed in regards to the Ole Miss allegations. The NCAA also previously denied Ole Miss lawyers their requests to interview Jones and Lewis.
Ole Miss is facing 21 violations, 15 of which are considered Level I, the most serious of the allegations. Among them are a lack of institutional control charge and a failure to monitor charge against Freeze, both of which Ole Miss has challenged. The program has already self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 season, forfeited its share of postseason revenue and docked itself seven scholarships.
Last week, Ole Miss said it received the NCAA's latest response in the investigation, which it plans to release at some point. That same week, Freeze resigned after phone records showed a "" related to a call placed to an escort service. Those phone records were requested by the attorney representing former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming that Freeze and Ole Miss orchestrated a smear campaign against him regarding the NCAA allegations.