What came to light last night was that Laremy Tunsil asked for money to help pay rent.
The response, presumably from John Miller in football operations, does not say that the money was given to Tunsil. It implies that Miller was willing to help and brings another football staffer into the equation. Tunsil said last night that money changed hands. I think he’s a qualified source, so let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that he’s correct.
Now when all this is playing out in real time late at night with deadlines in play all questions don’t get answered.
Stories like this tend to be days in playing out.
We reported last night that Laremy Tunsil said he accepted money.
That’s all we could report from an involved party, because Ole Miss was not getting into the conversation. The school released a statement late last night to say it was aware of Tunsil’s comments, would investigate and would cooperate with the SEC and NCAA.
I previously had a short conversation with Ross Bjork in the spring of 2015 when Fadol Brown needed help with travel money getting home after his family friend was shot in Charleston, S.C.
The NCAA not only allows schools to provide money to athletes during emergencies it provides some money for that in a lump sum to conferences. The situation described in Tunsil’s social media conversation would presumably fall within the guidelines of this fund.
The NCAA manual says “The Student Assistance Fund is intended to provide direct benefits to student-athletes or their families as determined by conference offices. As a guiding principal the fund shall be used to assist student-athletes in meeting financial needs that arise in conjunction with participation in intercollegiate athletics.”
The NCAA cites a few clear items for which money from this fund cannot be used, but it provides a great deal of leeway for schools to make decisions on how to use the money to help athletes. It appears that rent or utilities would fall within the guidelines.
What’s still unclear at this point is how this will be interpreted or handled by the NCAA. Its investigation at Ole Miss is complete. It’s findings and charges have been made known to Ole Miss. Ole Miss is preparing a response that is expected to be filed in less than a month.
Could the NCAA reopen its current investigation? It could always start a new one. If it can investigate alleged violations that occurred six years ago with a former assistant coach it can investigate something that happened during Laremy Tunsil’s time at Ole Miss.