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Bjork discusses ongoing women’s basketball investigation

Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork met with members of the media on Monday to discuss the firing of women’s basketball head coach Adrian Wiggins and two assistants as the university cooperates with an NCAA investigation regarding the women’s basketball program.
Jon Haywood/The Daily Mississippian

 
Ole Miss announced on Saturday that women’s basketball head coach Adrian Wiggins was placed on administrative leave and two of his staff members, Kenya and Michael Landers, were terminated, in light of an ongoing joint investigation between Ole Miss and the NCAA over “impermissible recruiting contacts and academic misconduct.”
 
“As I mentioned in my statement on Saturday, this is a very sad ordeal for the entire university, especially our student-athletes and our women’s basketball program,” athletics director Ross Bjork said in a press conference on Monday.
 
Bjork said the investigation began in early September when the Southeastern Conference notified Ole Miss of potential allegations. Bjork said he met with Wiggins on Saturday morning to let him know of the decision. 
 
“We have no findings at this time that coach Wiggins was involved in our violations, however ultimate responsibility lies with each head coach in all of our programs,” Bjork said. “We discovered and determined more could have been done.”
 
Bjork said the athletics department will not know what sanctions the NCAA will give Ole Miss, but they are cooperating with the NCAA and looking into self-imposed sanctions as well.
 
“This a joint investigation between the university and the NCAA, and it’s moving forward, and we will continue to cooperate at the highest level,” Bjork said. “The actions of those few individuals are severe in nature, and we want the answers as soon as possible so that we can move forward, understand the magnitude and also start to move forward in the healing process for our program.”
 
Bjork said Wiggins will not coach at Ole Miss in the future. Wiggins’ contract was terminated with cause, and Bjork said Wiggins will not receive a buyout and will be paid his state salary of $250,000 in monthly installments through March.
 
Bjork said there is no timetable for when an interim coach will be named, but he plans for an announcement to come “as soon as we can.” Assistant coaches Brett Frank, Rebecca Kates-Taylor and Taja Edwards remain on staff and will lead the team as they prepare for the upcoming season, which begins on Nov. 9 against Southeastern Louisiana. Bjork said the remaining three staff members as well as outside candidates will be considered for the interim position.
 
“We’re looking at everything right now in terms of our options,” Bjork said. “The great thing about this program is that we have a great history. We can rely on great hall of famers, so we’re talking to as many people as we can, including our current staff.”
 
Although Bjork was hired just days before Wiggins, Bjork said he met with all three finalists for the positions and it was ultimately his decision. 
 
“In the high-profile world that we sit in the Southeastern Conference in the highest level of the NCAA, the important lesson is that we know everything about everything,” Bjork said. “We do as much homework as possible. That was the standard that we applied in this case.”  
 
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