Attorney for Barney Farrar says Ole Miss has made former staffer 'a scapegoat' during NCAA investigation

Pat Forde
College football and basketball columnist
Barney Farrar’s attorney believes that Ole Miss has ‘thrown him under the bus.’ (AP)

The attorney for former Mississippi athletic staffer Barney Farrar, who is at the center of the NCAA investigation into alleged football violations at the school, believes Ole Miss has made him “a scapegoat” and “thrown him under the bus” in an attempt to shield others from scrutiny.

Houston-based attorney Bruse Loyd told Yahoo Sports on Thursday that he recently filed a brief on Farrar’s behalf as part of Mississippi’s response to the NCAA Notice of Allegations. That institutional response is expected to be filed next week, according to sources, another step in a lengthy investigative process that should culminate in a Committee on Infractions hearing in late summer or early fall.

Loyd said he’s had access to the other response briefs from Ole Miss. After reviewing them, he believes that Farrar is bearing a disproportionate amount of responsibility.

“It was apparent to me that the narrative coming out of Oxford was that Barney was being portrayed as the lone, rogue actor and everyone else was above reproach,” Loyd said, naming head coach Hugh Freeze as one of those considered “above reproach.”

“It’s not right,” Loyd added. “It is a betrayal of him. Do I think Barney’s been made a scapegoat? Yes. Based on what I’ve seen and know, they set him up. ‘You are the most unsophisticated, the most expendable, and, tag, you’re it.’ But I have to say, I’m his advocate in this.

“Barney’s thinking is, ‘We were all in this together – what happened to me?’ They were a team, and a team doesn’t abandon their own on the field of play. It’s also not the Ole Miss way.”

Farrar, the former assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations, was placed on administrative leave last November and the school announced his dismissal in early December. Loyd said Farrar was accused by NCAA enforcement of four Level One violations, the most serious level, in the Notice of Allegations that was delivered to Ole Miss in February.

As a whole, the school stands charged with 30 violations across three sports: football, women’s basketball and track and field. Twenty-one are tied to football, including an allegation that head coach Hugh Freeze violated his responsibility to create and enforce an atmosphere of compliance within his program.

Ole Miss self-imposed a postseason football ban in February for the upcoming season, but more penalties could be coming later this year.

In the meantime, Loyd believes Mississippi has hung his client out to dry, starting with what he described as the “hostage video” the school released upon the announcement of the Notice of Allegations and postseason ban.

Farrar’s contract expired March 31. His legal representation, which was through the same firm that represented head coach Hugh Freeze, was paid for by Mississippi. Funding for legal fees was cut off with his contract expiration.

“I stepped up to represent Barney,” said Loyd, a Mississippi native who described himself as a longtime friend of Farrar’s.

As Farrar’s lawyer, Loyd had a face-to-face meeting with the firm representing Ole Miss that he characterized as agreeable, but the school declined to pay his legal fees. Loyd then made a trip to Indianapolis to meet with NCAA officials in person, where they went over aspects of the case.

After that NCAA trip, Loyd wrote a letter to Ole Miss lawyers making a second request that the school pay Farrar’s legal fees and assist him financially through the briefing and hearing period, which is expected to end in September. That request was denied.

Unless he can effectively challenge the allegations currently against him, it is very unlikely Farrar can escape the panel assessing a show-cause penalty that would severely damage his chances of getting another job in college athletics.

“He’s charged with multiple violations – you tell me what my odds are [of exoneration] unless he can mount a good defense,” Loyd said. “I told the NCAA investigators when we met that, as it is, ‘On Johnny Cochran’s best day, Barney’s not going to walk out of there whole.’ ”

After the disagreement over paying fees and then reviewing the Ole Miss response briefs, Loyd came to a conclusion he shared with Farrar: “They’re going to throw you under the bus.” Loyd believes Farrar was used by the school to cooperate with the investigation, then discarded.

Until recently, Farrar had been “very reticent to let me try to change the public narrative. He finally gave me some running room, and I have done my best to educate Ole Miss alumni, fans and friends as to what is going on. This is not the Ole Miss way and I think most will take exception to the treatment of Barney and will hopefully speak out.

“We love Ole Miss, Barney and I both. We don’t want to hurt Ole Miss. You talk about the athletic director and chancellor and those people I assume are making these decisions, I take exception to some of those decisions.”

As part of his “education” efforts, Loyd told an Evansville, Indiana, TV station earlier this week that the allegations against Mississippi could rise to the level of death penalty sanctions, something the NCAA has levied only once in the past, to SMU football in the 1980s.

Despite that stance, Loyd said he has seen nothing in the response briefs that directly implicates Freeze in any violations.

“I’m not aware of Coach Freeze doing anything improper,” Loyd said. “Although the relationship is strained, Coach Freeze is a longtime friend of Barney’s.”

Farrar isn’t the only former Ole Miss staffer unhappy at the way the school has handled this NCAA investigation. Last week the attorney for former football head coach Houston Nutt was sharply critical of the school for its portrayal of what was in the initial Notice of Allegations, which was received in January 2016.

Nutt’s attorney, Timothy Mars, has asked for an acknowledgement that Ole Miss harmed Nutt’s reputation, and a public apology.