Houston Nutt, Ole Miss reach settlement in lawsuit

— -- Ole Miss officials and former Rebels coach Houston Nutt reached an undisclosed settlement Monday to dismiss Nutt's lawsuit against the school.

Nutt, who coached the Rebels from 2008 to 2011, filed a lawsuit against Ole Miss, its athletics foundation and board of trustees in July, alleging that former coach Hugh Freeze, athletics director Ross Bjork and other athletics department officials violated a separation agreement with Nutt by making disparaging comments about him during off-the-record conversations with reporters.

The lawsuit alleged that Freeze and others used off-the-record conversations with media to help create a "false narrative" that placed primary blame on Nutt for a five-year investigation of the school by the NCAA.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in August, but Nutt's attorneys refiled the case in Lafayette County (Mississippi) Circuit Court last week.

"The lawyers who represent the University and Coach Nutt have communicated during the past few weeks to reach an agreement that would allow the parties to resolve Coach Nutt's claim while avoiding the costs and distractions associated with further litigation. The parties have reached such an agreement," the lawyers said in a joint statement released by Ole Miss on Monday.

As part of the agreement, Ole Miss also apologized for its athletics department employees making disparaging comments about Nutt to reporters.

"Certain statements made by University employees in January 2016 appear to have contributed to misleading media reports about Coach Nutt," Ole Miss officials said in another statement. "To the extent any such statements harmed Coach Nutt's reputation, the University apologizes, as this was not the intent. The NCAA's Notice of Allegations dated January 22, 2016, did not name or implicate Coach Nutt in any misconduct, and it would have been inappropriate for any University employee to suggest otherwise."

One of Nutt's attorneys, Thomas Mars, and Steve Robertson, a Mississippi State fan who covers the Bulldogs for a recruiting website, uncovered phone records that led to Freeze's abrupt resignation in July. At the time, Bjork told ESPN that Freeze's phone records included calls to an escort service.

Mars wasn't immediately available for comment on Monday. He previously told ESPN that Nutt would withdraw the lawsuit if Ole Miss officials apologized for making inaccurate statements about him and if the school donated $500,000 to establish a state commission on sports ethics.

Nutt, who had a 24-26 record with the Rebels, previously said he never intended to harm Freeze and only wanted to clear his name.

"I am pleased to put the lawsuit behind me," Nutt said in a statement. "Best wishes to the future of the Ole Miss football program."