Ole Miss apologizes to Nutt as part of settlement

Oct 17, 2017 - 1:55 AM The University of Mississippi reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed against the school by former football coach Houston Nutt.

The undisclosed agreement, announced in a joint statement and including an apology from the university, comes more than three months after Nutt filed a federal lawsuit against the school, claiming former football coach Hugh Freeze and athletic director Ross Bjork violated the university's 2011 severance agreement.

A U.S. District Court judge in Mississippi dismissed the civil lawsuit against the university and its board of trustees in August, but Nutt refiled the case in state court last week.

"The lawyers who represent the University and Coach Nutt have communicated during the past few weeks to reach an agreement that would allow the parties to resolve Coach Nutt's claim while avoiding the costs and distractions associated with further litigation," Monday's statement said. "The parties have reached such an agreement."

Nutt's lawsuit alleged that after the school was informed of 21 rules violations related to its football program, Freeze and Bork promoted a false storyline that suggested that most of the infractions occurred under Nutt.

The attorney for Nutt, Thomas Mars, repeatedly stated that his client wanted an apology from the school for what he considered a smear campaign, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

Monday's statement by the university addressed that wish.

"Certain statements made by University employees in January 2016 appear to have contributed to misleading media reports about Coach Nutt. To the extent any such statements harmed Coach Nutt's reputation, the University apologizes, as this was not the intent," the university said in a statement. "The NCAA's Notice of Allegations dated January 22, 2016, did not name or implicate Coach Nutt in any misconduct, and it would have been inappropriate for any University employee to suggest otherwise."

While Nutt was seeking punitive damages in his suit, which alleged breach of contract, a breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, neither side disclosed if there was a financial settlement.

"I am pleased to put the lawsuit behind me. Best wishes to the future of the Ole Miss Football program," said Nutt in a statement.

An investigation into the charges led to the resignation of Freeze in July after a pattern of misconduct was uncovered, including phone calls from Freeze to an escort service on his school-issued cell phone.

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