HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Southern Mississippi, already on a two-year probation for recruiting violations, admitted Wednesday more violations occurred in the signing of freshman linebacker Don Palmer.
University President Dr. Aubrey Lucas told a news conference the university began its investigation after it was informed Oct. 8 that the NCAA was looking into 11 allegations involving Palmer.
As a result of the probe, Lucas said Palmer had been released from his letter of intent and an assistant coach had been suspended and his contract would not be renewed when it expires on Dec. 31.
He also said coach Jim Carmody's salary had been frozen and the term of his contract will not be extended at this time. In addition, four alumni and one non-alumnus are being disassociated from the university's football program for a period of two years, prohibiting their participation in football support organizations and buying season tickets.
Palmer, of Brndon (Miss.) High School, triggered the investigation after Carmody refused to let him out of the letter-of-intent so he could sign with the University of Mississippi. He alleged he was forced to sign with the Golden Eagles because of pressure from his mother, who had heard of racial prejudice at Ole Miss.
Palmer, in a letter to the NCAA and the university, alleged he was given clothing, basketball game tickets, cash, and transportation to the campus by an assistant coach he identified as Jerry Fremin.
The university's football program is scheduled to come off the two-year probation at the end of the year.
Both Lucas and Athletic Director Roland Dale said they were 'disappointed' and 'embarrassed' by the incident. Dale said the incident was the 'darkest day of my professional career.'
Lucas said 'every person' involved in the violation knew it was a violation of NCAA rules.
'The university has made its own investigation and finds that the allegations are substantially correct,' said Lucas. 'Suffice to say, the allegations relate to improper actions and inducements all intended to recruit Donald Palmer to sign a letter-of-intent with the University of Southern Mississippi.'
Lucas said a committee of faculty and alumni had been assisting in the investigation and determining an appropriate response to the NCAA inquiry. He said details about the allegations would not be revealed at this time since the investigation and response were not complete.
Although Lucas declined to give specifics of the investigation, he said it was sufficiently complete for the univerity to announce certain actions it was taking. He said the actions were not being taken to influence the NCAA.