Awaiting eligibility decision, Ole Miss DB Otis Reese pleads with NCAA

Ole Miss opens its 2020 season against the Florida Gators in just three days, and they’re still waiting on the NCAA to make a decision regarding a transfer that arrived on campus back in January. After months of waiting, safety Otis Reese took matters into his own hands Tuesday by posting a letter directed at the NCAA and the SEC, detailing the factors that led to his decision to transfer from Georgia after two seasons.

In the letter, the former 4-star recruit from Leesburg, Georgia alleged that he endured racial taunts on campus, police harassment, and manipulation by head coach Kirby Smart during his stint in Athens. He states that these events took a “mental toll” on him, leading him to decide to finish his collegiate career elsewhere. 

Additionally, Reese concluded by explained that the NCAA’s decision granting all student-athletes an additional year of eligibility should include him. 

Head Coach Lane Kiffin, who is preparing to coach his first game with the Rebels, has voiced his frustration with the situation throughout the offseason, and that has now spilled over into game week. 

“Unfortunately, we still do not have an answer. We have not gotten an answer from the NCAA, and it’s got to go to the SEC after that. So, you know it kind of makes it difficult. You know because of trying to plan and figure out—same with Deane Leonard—here’s two guys that would potentially be starters for us that we don’t know what to do and we’re trying to practice. We really only have two practices left, really, Tuesday and Wednesday so sure be nice to know,” Kiffin said Monday. 

According to ESPN, the UGA Athletics Association released the following statement disputing the events detailed in Reeses’ letter. 

“We cannot comment on student-athlete eligibility matters due to federal privacy laws, but we would be happy to share our full response to Otis Reese’s waiver request, if he provides a signed release allowing us to do so. UGA disputes any suggestion that it maintains an unsafe, unsupportive, or racially insensitive environment.”

This is not an unprecedented situation as star QB Justin Fields, now at Ohio State, left the Bulldog program after similar allegations of racism on the UGA campus and was granted immediate eligibility.