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NCAA Investigation into Ole Miss Underscores Call Accounting Requirements


September 01, 2017

The NCAA has strict rules regarding communication between school staff, players, prospects and their families, and boosters.  The reason is simple – college athletics has become such a tremendous business, particularly football and basketball, which bring in significant revenue to their respective institutions.  It’s also why successful coaches command seven-figure annual salaries – they are charged with compiling teams that will deliver that revenue.  For the 2015-2016 academic year, Texas A&M University topped the list with $194,388,450 in total NCAA revenue – close to 40 percent of it from contributions.

It means programs are constantly looking for any and every advantage they can get, which can lead to illegal recruiting tactics, often involving boosters and other third parties in an effort to distance school staff and team administration from any improprieties.

The University of Mississippi is in embroiled in investigations into improper benefits being given to recruits though the involvement of one of its boosters, Lee Harris.  Ole Miss ranked 24th in NCAA revenue in the same year, generating $110,524,705 in revenue.  Call accounting records show that former football head coach Hugh Freeze had more than 200 phone calls with Harris in the past two years.  Harris is accused of providing cash and free food to a recruit at his local restaurant.

While Freeze himself has not been named in the formal investigation as a co-conspirator, USA Today’s Dan Waken, who broke the case originally, notes that “frequent communication between the head coach and a booster who allegedly violated NCAA rules, however, raises additional questions about whether Old Miss administrators sufficiently monitored Freeze’s phone calls during his tenure.”

NCAA rules regarding communication make it critical that institutions have equally strong call accounting and monitoring systems in place to help them quickly uncover any questionable activities before they lead to actionable violations.  In the case of Freeze, the call accounting details came into the limelight once the Harris investigation began and Freeze is being charged by the NCAA with failure to monitor activities under his purview.  The former coach resigned in July amid another call accounting scandal, when it was found that he placed calls to an escort service on university cell phone.




Edited by Erik Linask

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