Ole Miss can make this whole self-induced Houston Nutt headache—which is now just one headache among many—go away if it just admits it lied about the details of some recruiting violations and forks over a half-a-million bucks in the name of “sports ethics.”
Ole Miss received a settlement offer from the legal team of former Rebels head coach Houston Nutt on Friday afternoon; on Monday, ESPN reported on the details of the settlement: A formal apology from Ole Miss and a $500,000 donation to fund a commission on sports ethics for the state of Mississippi.
The settlement offer comes less than a month after Nutt filed a lawsuit against the Rebels, claiming recently fired head coach Hugh Freeze, athletic director Ross Bjork, and a sports information director violated Ole Miss’s separation contract with Nutt by spreading lies about him to various members of the press.
The lawsuit alleges the trio spoke privately with at least seven journalists throughout January 2016, hoping to convince them that the majority of recruiting violations being pursued by an NCAA investigation occurred while Nutt was the Rebels head coach. Upon discovering this, Nutt demanded Ole Miss and their employees apologize and renounce their claims; when they refused to, well, Nutt filed his suit and went scorched earth.
Freeze is now out of a job, his name synonymous with “escorts” and “dumb ass,” while disturbing rumors from his high school days continue to resurface. Meanwhile, the NCAA is still licking its chops, preparing to tear Ole Miss to shreds during the ruling and appeals process; and the university, its multi-million dollar brand in tatters, is still trying to play hardball with Freeze’s semi-private (for some reason) phone records so as to avoid an even bigger shitshow.
The time for simple apologies has long passed, according to Nutt’s lawyer, Thomas Mars, who said that while an initial apology could have sufficed, Ole Miss will have to reach into its coffers to avoid a juicy discovery period and an additional lawsuit. In announcing the settlement offer sans details, Mars passed along the following statement last Friday:
The settlement proposal we presented to Ole Miss earlier today is focused on the apology Houston Nutt has consistently asked for and fully deserves. After all, there’s no longer any doubt about what happened here.
More than a few unbiased sports reporters have talked openly on the radio and on podcasts in recent weeks about how Hugh Freeze “lied” to the press in order to falsely portray Houston Nutt as the primary target of the NCAA’s investigation. What’s more, other journalists have come out of the woodwork since the lawsuit was filed to share with us their personal recollections of how they too were duped by Coach Freeze. So purely from a moral standpoint, if for no other reason, Ole Miss owes Houston an apology.
Contrary to what some people have suggested about Coach Nutt’s motives, the settlement proposal we submitted today isn’t designed to put money in Houston’s bank account. This lawsuit was never about money. Beginning many months ago and continuing until today, Houston’s issues with Ole Miss have been about honor, the preservation of his well-earned good name and reputation for integrity, and accountability.
With that in mind, what we proposed earlier today creates an opportunity for Ole Miss to do something positive for student athletes all across Mississippi, for Ole Miss to have a leadership role in that effort, and to “do the right thing” by Coach Nutt.
Given the alternatives at hand, it’s difficult to imagine a more selfless and virtuous way for Houston to clear his name while giving Ole Miss an easy and painless exit from this unpleasant litigation.
We expect Ole Miss to be very pleased with our proposal and look forward to hearing from the University’s lawyers.
In a simpler world, void of pride and penises, the Rebels would have already forked over some cash under the table and privately apologized to Nutt. Now, they will probably have to do that and pay $500,000 on a sports ethics commission (whatever the hell that is) after just having fired their coach for possible sex-having. Thank God for pride and penises.