An Oxford clothing store says there’s proof the Mississippi State players who implicated it in talks with the NCAA were directed to do so by their coach and AD.
Florida head coach Dan Mullen and athletic director Scott Stricklin are among the names added to the legal battle waged by Oxford-based clothing company Rebel Rags against the fallout from the NCAA’s investigation into Ole Miss.
Rebel Rags had already named Mississippi State players Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones, and Lindsey Miller, Laremy Tunsil’s estranged stepfather, in a previous suit filed last summer that contained 15 John Doe defendants. A new complaint to be consolidated with that suit alleges that Mullen and Stricklin, in their previous roles as Mississippi State coach and AD, respectively, committed acts to aid and abet libel, slander and defamation against the store as a co-conspirator with the other defendants. The complaint also alleges that the NCAA is liable for decisions and tortuous actions committed by investigator Mike Sheridan and other employees, agents and committees.
“We’ve got pretty good proof that both Mullen and Stricklin were involved in [directing] both Jones’s and Lewis’s accounts,” Charlie Merkel, the attorney for Rebel Rags, told SI. “It’s in the transcripts.”
The complaints come in the wake of statements provided to the NCAA as part of its investigation into Ole Miss athletics. Rebel Rags had been named in the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations last year when Lewis, Jones and Miller were alleged to have received free merchandise from Rebel Rags that was of a value of $2,800, which led to a Level I violation against Ole Miss. In the original complaint filed last year by Rebel Rags, it alleged that Lewis, Jones and Miller knowingly provided false information to the NCAA in their testimonies. The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions ruled that Lewis, Jones and Miller were credible in their statements and ordered Ole Miss to disassociate Rebel Rags owner Terry Warren.
“We have learned that Mr. Stricklin and several others have been named as parties to a lawsuit filed by an Oxford, Mississippi business that appears to have been identified in the NCAA’s findings of major rules violations by the University of Mississippi football program,” wrote Charles Winfield, the attorney for Stricklin, in a statement. “Simply put, the claims against Mr. Stricklin are wholly devoid of merit, and there is simply no good faith basis in either law or fact for Mr. Stricklin to have been made a party to such a case.”