The turmoil around Laremy Tunsil’s arrival in the NFL continued to reverberate Friday as his former college Ole Miss vowed to “aggressively investigate” his admission he took money from a coach there.
A video of Tunsil smoking from a marijuana pipe made in part from a gas mask, which mysteriously appeared on the player’s own Twitter account as the draft began, was just the beginning.
The video was enough to see the 21-year-old offensive tackle drop from a likely top-five pick to 13th overall, where he was taken by the Miami Dolphins.
Tunsil said his account was hacked, and while he was the man in the video he didn’t post it.
He was in the midst of his first press conference since being drafted when he was peppered with questions prompted by images posted on his Instagram account of texts in which he appears to ask an Ole Miss athletics official for money to pay his mother’s electric bill.
“I’d have to say yeah,” Tunsil said when asked if he’d taken money from a coach.
It was a stunning admission in the world of US collegiate sports, where the benefits allowed to student athletes are strictly spelled out by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) even as the teams they play for make millions for their universities.
“The university is aware of the reports from the NFL Draft regarding Laremy Tunsil and potential NCAA violations during his time at Ole Miss,” the university said in a statement.
“Like we do whenever an allegation is brought to our attention or a potential violation is self-discovered, we will aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC.”
– Mystery remains –
Tunsil had already been suspended by the NCAA for the first seven games of last season for accepting improper benefits. His admission on Thursday night of taking money from a coach will again have Ole Miss in the governing body’s sights.
The player’s fall from a possible top-five pick to 13th will cost him as much as $10 million as he starts his professional career.
The Baltimore Ravens were poised to take him sixth, but reportedly took him off their draft board after the marijuana video surfaced and selected tackle Ronnie Stanley instead. The Tennessee Titans took tackle Jack Conklin eighth overall.
The Dolphins will be hoping that the drama doesn’t dog Tunsil, and they will prove to have gotten a draft-day bargain.
Meanwhile the mystery remained on Friday as to who made the damaging social media posts.
Tunsil, who kept his composure throughout the strange sequence of events, declined to speculate on Thursday in a post-draft interview with NFL Network.
“This just gives me a chip on my shoulder when I get to the league,” Tunsil said.
But his attorney, Steven Farese, said the posts were clearly aimed at hurting Tunsil’s draft status — which the lawyer said was also the aim of a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by Tunsil’s stepfather Lindsey Miller over an altercation between the two last year.
A lawyer for Miller told USA Today Sports on Friday that Miller had nothing to do with the Twitter and Instagram hacks.
“Mr. Miller denies any involvement whatsoever in the events that transpired last night,” lawyer Mark Wilson told USA Today. “When he learned last night that Mr. Tunsil’s accounts had been hacked, he was surprised that the posted content even existed.”