By David Brandt/The Associated Press
OXFORD — Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork is considering self-imposing penalties on the women’s basketball program as the university cooperates with an NCAA investigation regarding “impermissible recruiting contacts and academic misconduct.”
Head coach Adrian Wiggins and two assistants — Kenya Landers and Michael Landers — were fired on Saturday as a result of the university’s findings. Bjork said Wiggins has been fired with cause, but will be paid his annual $250,000 state salary through the end of March.
“We have no findings at this time that coach Wiggins was involved in our violations, however ultimate responsibility lies with each head coach in all of our programs,” Bjork said. “We discovered and determined more could have been done. The tough part about all this is Adrian Wiggins is a good man and we hope the best for him and his family as he moves forward.”
Bjork said he hopes to name an interim head coach quickly. The season starts on Nov. 9 with a home game against Southeastern Louisiana.
Assistant coaches Brett Frank, Rebecca Kates-Taylor and Taja Edwards have been retained and will be considered for the interim position, but Bjork said he will also look at outside candidates.
The university has also declared that two women’s basketball players — Kay Caples and Brandy Broome — are ineligible after failing to meet NCAA transfer eligibility standards.
Bjork said the current investigation began in September after the Southeastern Conference notified Ole Miss of potential allegations. He said the investigation is ongoing, so he couldn’t get into details about the evidence the university found.
“It’s (the SEC’s) duty to notify us and it’s our duty to follow up, so we launched a very quick and decisive investigation,” Bjork said. “The more we uncovered, the more mounting evidence that was available to us. So we took the decisive action.”
The 39-year-old Wiggins was hired in March after a successful seven-year tenure at Fresno State. The Bulldogs had advanced to five straight NCAA Tournaments and won a program-best 28 games last season.
Kenya and Michael Landers — who are married — came to Ole Miss after serving as the co-head coaches at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. The pair led Trinity Valley to a national championship and a 36-0 record last season before accepting jobs in Oxford.
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP