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Nutt files defamation lawsuit against Ole Miss

Former University of Mississippi head coach Houston Nutt has filed a federal lawsuit against Ole Miss, claiming current football coach Hugh Freeze and athletic director Ross Bjork violated the university's 2011 severance agreement.

Nutt's lawsuit alleges that Freeze and Bjork promoted a false storyline that suggested that most of the ongoing case of NCAA infractions involved violations that occurred under Nutt.

Nutt is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for lost wages, emotional distress, embarrassment and attorney's fees.

Mississippi has been accused of 21 infractions related to its football program, and university officials are expected to appear in front of the NCAA's committee on infractions later this year.

The school self-imposed some penalties, but is defending Freeze, who could face major sanctions if it was determined that he failed to monitor the program effectively.

Most of the NCAA's case deals with misconduct under Freeze's watch.

Nutt, who was the coach of Ole Miss from 2008 to 2011, claims in the suit that Freeze, Bjork and sports information director Kyle Campbell "reached an agreement in 2014 to carry out a carefully orchestrated misinformation campaign, the specific purpose of which was to mislead the media, Ole Miss boosters, and potential recruiting prospects about the true nature of the matters that were being investigated by the NCAA."

Mississippi received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, but the university did not release it publicly.

Reports from various media outlets, often quoting anonymous sources, indicated the university claimed that most of the alleged violations occurred during Nutt's time as coach.

Nutt's lawsuit claims, according to USA Today, that phone records for Freeze, Bjork and Campbell were obtained, and they indicated they spoke with reporters who produced stories that contained misleading information about the Notice of Allegations and Nutt's involvement.

"During the 10 days leading up to the crucial weekend recruiting event, Coach Freeze initiated 'off the record' conversations with numerous sports journalists for the specific purpose of creating multiple false and misleading news stories, Tweets and other social media comments supporting the above-referenced false narrative, i.e., that the NCAA's focus was on the former football coaching staff and Houston Nutt in particular."

Nutt tried to obtain an apology from Ole Miss, but when he did not get one, he decided to sue.

Nutt currently works as a television analyst for college football.

D1SportsNet



July 12, 2017