Leo Lewis, a sophomore linebacker from Mississippi State, is at the center of the NCAA investigation of his rival school, Ole Miss. According to a report from SB Nation, Lewis spoke to the NCAA three times after being granted conditional immunity, however, in doing so, he may have implicated Mississippi State in a recruiting scandal.
The linebacker openly admitted to being paid and receiving other benefits such as free food and merchandise while being recruited.
“Lewis claimed to have received a $10,000 cash payment from an Ole Miss booster named “Allen” (Lewis wasn’t sure if it was his first or last name) in the parking lot of a Hampton Inn in Brookhaven on Feb. 3, 2015, one day before National Signing Day.
“’We arranged it … because I needed it. Well, I didn’t need it, I take that back. I asked for it. It was getting — it was getting close to Signing Day and so I just — I just asked for the 10 grand,’ Lewis told the NCAA,” according to the report.
While that violation was in relation to Ole Miss, investigators also reportedly uncovered a tape of Lewis’ mother saying he got an $80,000 offer to sign with Mississippi State and a $650,000 offer to sign with LSU.
Lewis is now caught between a rock and a hard place. While the NCAA granted him conditional immunity, they did not do the same for his school. Speaking further with the NCAA could result in sanctions being placed on Mississippi State. A civil suit has also been brought against him by an Ole Miss apparel shop, the Rebel Rags, whose owner was implicated in Lewis’ statements. Talking more to the NCAA could also hurt Lewis on that end. However, if he refuses to talk more, Lewis could lose immunity.
It’s an open secret that college football recruiting isn’t exactly on the level. However, stories like this are still just unbelievable. If Mississippi State (or LSU, for that matter), gets sanctioned for this, the consequences will be massive. There’s also more impending punishment that could come down on Ole Miss. That’s three SEC schools which could go down as a result of one scandal. The next step in this is a hearing which Lewis could attend on September 11 via Skype, but the NCAA may not allow him to do that. From there, who knows what happens.