Former Ole Miss football coach Houston Nutt is suing the school, ESPN reported Wednesday, claiming his character was defamed due to how the school has handled an NCAA investigation.
Nutt served as Ole Miss’ head coach for four years and was fired following a 2-10 season in 2011. The Rebels were 24-26 in Nutt’s four years as head coach. He alleges in his lawsuit that current Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, along with school officials, created a “false narrative” to place blame on him for the NCAA investigation.
Ole Miss has been under investigation for nearly five years and the NCAA has already announced its charges against the school, four of which are Level 1 violations — the most severe violation. Some of the alleged violations had to do with lack of institutional control.
Nutt’s lawsuit claims damages for “lost wages, emotional distress, embarrassment, attorney’s fees and punitive damages.” He alleged that Freeze held off-the-record conversations with reporters to help fuel the narrative that Nutt was to blame for the findings in the NCAA’s investigation. Nutt also claimed that Freeze was “going to extraordinary lengths through social media and otherwise to promote his self-image as a deeply spiritual Godly man who’s done nothing wrong and is being persecuted,” and “attempting to cultivate personal relationships with sports journalists for the purpose of promoting his self-image through positive news stories,” via ESPN.
Ole Miss released a statement Wednesday stating that it has yet to be served with the suit.
“We are aware it has been filed,” said Ole Miss general counsel Lee Tyner in the statement. “We were provided a copy a short time ago. We will carefully review Coach Nutt’s claims and respond in due course.”