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Former Mississippi football coach Houston Nutt has offered to settle his defamation lawsuit with the school in exchange for a public apology and $500,000 to fund the creation of an integrity for college sports commission in the state, a person with knowledge of the case told USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Nutt would not benefit financially from the settlement as proposed.

Nutt's attorney, Thomas Mars, has maintained that Ole Miss' failure to apologize to Nutt has been at the core of his drive for public records, which resulted in the discovery of information that led to the resignation of Hugh Freeze as football coach.

Nutt claimed via his lawsuit that Ole Miss officials, including Freeze and athletics director Ross Bjork, inaccurately portrayed the contents of the school's NCAA Notice of Allegations in off-the-record conversations with media members to make it appear the bulk of violations happened under Nutt, who was fired in 2011.

Related: How Houston Nutt Factored into Freeze's Ole Miss Exit

Mars, using public records, connected phone conversations from Freeze and Bjork to media members, who subsequently reported misleading information about the allegations shortly before national signing day in 2016.

Ole Miss has subsequently received a second Notice of Allegations that expanded to 21 violations, the vast majority of which occurred under Freeze. The school is fighting a charge of lack of institutional control and is expected to appear in front of the Committee on Infractions in September.

Ole Miss has thus far declined to apologize to Nutt. In an interview Friday with WHBQ-AM radio in Memphis, Bjork vehemently denied the allegations in the lawsuit but declined to get into specifics.

According to the settlement proposal, Ole Miss would have to acknowledge false statements made about Nutt and offer an apology. The $500,000 donation would be to a commission that would have to make an annual, publicly available report of its findings.

"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," Mars said late last week. "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."

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August 9, 2017
 
 
 

 

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