Lawyers representing an Oxford, Mississippi-based clothing store that sued two Mississippi State players for defamation and conspiracy added former Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, former MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin, the NCAA and one of its investigators as defendants in a new civil lawsuit filed on Tuesday.
The NCAA accused Rebels Rags of providing free clothing to Mississippi State players Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones when rival Ole Miss was recruiting them. The clothing store's owner denied the allegations and his lawyers sued Jones, Lewis and Lindsey Miller, who is former Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil's estranged stepfather, for defamation, civil conspiracy and commercial disparagement in June.
On Tuesday, Rebel Rags attorneys added Mullen and Stricklin, who both now work at Florida, the NCAA and NCAA investigator Mike Sheridan as defendants in a lawsuit filed at Lafayette County Circuit Court in Oxford, Mississippi.
Sports Illustrated first reported details of the new lawsuit.
Stricklin's attorney denied the allegations in the lawsuit.
"Simply put, the claims against Mr. Stricklin are wholly devoid of merit," attorney Charles Winfield said in a statement, "and there is simply no good faith in either law or fact that Mr. Stricklin to have been made a party to such a case."
The allegations against Rebel Rags were included in a second NCAA Notice of Allegations received by Ole Miss last year, which resulted in Level One violations. The NCAA ordered Ole Miss officials to disassociate Rebel Rags owner Terry Warren from the university.
The original lawsuit accused Lewis, Jones and Miller of making false statements to NCAA investigators "intentionally, maliciously and/or with reckless disregard for the consequences of their actions" and causing "economic and reputational damage to the plaintiff."
Charles Merkel Jr., an attorney in Clarksdale, Mississippi, told ESPN in June that Warren had received threats and boycott letters from Ole Miss fans, who allege he hurt the Rebels by breaking NCAA rules and providing recruits with improper benefits.
"My client's entire business is merchandising Ole Miss licensed merchandise, and obviously he has caught heat since this came out in February," Merkel said. "He's received all sorts of threats from customers who say they're going to boycott, and others have threatened him."
Last week, Ole Miss filed its appeal of the NCAA committee on infractions' decision to ban the football program from the postseason in 2018, limit unofficial recruiting visits and cite the school for lack of institutional control in a case involving 21 violations.