While a thread linking an earlier article filtered past MgoBlog a few days ago regarding what the appeal documents sent to the NCAA state, the article left out some stuff that has since come out, and I attempted to recreate a brief narrative of facts that are in the appeal. While this means next to nothing, Mars the attorney representing these six transfer players including Patterson, says:
"It's an open and shut case is what happened,"-Tom Mars
Okay, now here's what the public does have as it relates specifically to Patterson's appeal. Mars says that 12 people provided statements discussing details of how recruits were misled including what they were told. He says that the statements were very consistent, but obviously they are not being made public. Consistent statements from different parties is usually a good thing. My guess is those statements are going to provide more detail, especially regarding verbal conversations with coaches to players or parents, than what we have below.
On October 2, 2014 the news began reporting that the NCAA was investigating the Ole Miss program.
According to the report, coach Hugh Freeze is not believed to be implicated in any major violations, and that much of the inquiry dates back to actions by a previous Ole Miss staff.
While we don't have any record of conversations between coaching staff and 2016 recruits until January of 2016, this investigation was ongoing and it appears the families and recruits were aware of it and had been told something (allegedly consistently) by the coaches.
During 2015 the NCAA conducted a preliminary investigation of Ole Miss sports programs, speaking to players and former players. Ole Miss was well aware of the developing allegations as the subsequent notice of allegations indicates that:
The institution was actively engaged in this investigation
Ole Miss football suspended Laremy Tunsil at the start of the season and it soon came out it was for receiving an impermissible benefit.
On October 12, 2015 the NCAA informed Ole Miss that Tunsil would be eligible to play on October 24, 2015, but that it had found he had received a number of impermissible benefits, not just one. This made the news right away.
On January 4, 2016 Laremy Tunsil declared for the NFL draft, so parents and recruits had good reason to believe that the allegations against Tunsil would not significantly affect the program moving forward.
On January 21, 2016 Shea Patterson signed a letter of intent to Ole Miss and began taking classes. However he wasn't practicing with the team and could have still transferred to another school, and played during the 2016 school year had he decided to before signing day, February 3, 2016.
On January 22, 2016 the NCAA sent Ole Miss a Notice of Allegations containing thirteen allegations of lengthy violations against the football program. Of note, only two of these thirteen violations were alleged to have happened prior to Freeze's tenure as head coach. While there were 28 alleged violations within the document, fully half of the Level 1 violations, eight of sixteen, involved the football program. (The final investigation ended up finding 15 Level one allegations against the football program under Freeze's watch).
On the afternoon of January 29, 2016 news of this letter of investigation broke and the recruits immediately wanted to know what was going on as the yahoo article said it was unclear what the breakdown of allegations by program was, and that the university was not responding.
At 5:23 p.m. that day, Tre Nixon sent a text to Patterson saying "hey, what's going on". Patterson did not reply, possibly because he was texting a coach to find out. (Patterson's texts to Freeze or other coaches were not made public)
At 5:38 p.m. Tre Nixon then sent a text to Hugh Freeze wondering what was going on and questioning whether there would be any new penalties.
At 6:13 p.m. Freeze texted Nixon (inadvertently) in reply stating "good PR response... get this in all the recruits hands.":
Of note, the article he links to titled "Nothing new in NCAA probe of Ole Miss" cites the athletic department issuing a statement saying they can't comment. However, the article mentions anonymous sources within the Ole Miss football program as saying that 1) there were only five allegations against the football program, 2) most of the allegations involved Houston Nutt's tenure from 2008 to 2011, and that 3) a very minimal number of allegations were tied to the current football program and all involved Laremy Tunsil. (False, False, and False)
What makes the combination of this text message and the linked article extremely helpful to Patterson's case, is that the head coach labeled this as a good PR response for the recruits, when the only alleged detailed comments were otherwise from anonymous Ole Miss sources, and this PR response is extremely misleading. This is therefore what Freeze and Ole Miss was trying to tell these recruits at this time, in writing, mere days prior to national signing day.
At 7:48 p.m. Patterson then texts Nixon back (this is what on its face reads as Patterson being part of the problem, but in context it just shows that Freeze was putting false information out to the recruits, who were then talking):