Jackie Sherrill believes rain accentuates the advantage for the bigger, stronger team. Credit: MSU Athletics

CANTON – Former Mississippi State University head football coach Jackie Sherrill’s lawsuit against the NCAA concluded Wednesday when the two sides reached a confidential settlement.

“From our standpoint we are really happy with the outcome,” said Rachel Pierce Waide of Tupelo, who along with her husband, Jim, represented Sherrill in the lawsuit that was first filed in 2004. “I think it was a good day for Jackie Sherrill and for college athletics.”

She said she could not divulge details about the settlement that was reached on the third day of the trial that began July 15 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Sherrill, 75, did not ask for a specific monetary amount in the lawsuit, though, in the original filing he was asking for a multimillion-dollar settlement. Sherrill’s longtime attorney Wayne Ferrell of Jackson late Wednesday afternoon confirmed that there was a financial settlement. Ferrell said the settlement also clears Sherrill to coach or serve in the administration of any NCAA school.

Cal Mayo of Oxford, who represented the NCAA and its investigators in the lawsuit, referred reporters to the NCAA for comment.

The NCAA provided this statement from Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer: “Rather than continuing what already has been a lengthy legal process, all parties have agreed to confidentially settle the claims in this case without admissions of liability or responsibility. We thank the court and jury for their service and professional participation in the process.”

Sherrill filed the lawsuit after resigning his position at Mississippi State in 2003 in the midst of an NCAA investigation into his football program.

Sherrill was accused of promising to provide a car for a recruit and of promising to help the family of another recruit. In 2004 the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions dropped the accusations against Sherrill for insufficient evidence, though, the university was placed on probation.

Sherrill, who now lives in Wimberly, Texas, said the NCAA unfairly tarnished his reputation with its investigation and prevented him from pursuing other coaching options after leaving Mississippi State.

Before the settlement was reached, the 12 person Madison County jury heard testimony from Sherrill, NCAA investigator Richard Johanningmeier, former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond and others.

Sherrill, who began his head coaching career in 1976, was hired at Mississippi State in 1991.

He led Mississippi State to some of its best seasons, including a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game. He is still the university’s winningest coach with 75 wins.

The trial, which included accusations that some Ole Miss boosters helped to tarnish his reputation, highlighted the rivalry between the two schools.

During questioning of potential jurors at the beginning of the week, one potential juror wearing a maroon jacket in Mississippi State colors was questioned. He deadpanned he put the jacket on because it was cold in the courtroom.

Mayo joked, based on the questioning of the potential jurors, that it appeared a football game was going to break out.

The lawsuit originally was filed in Starkville, home of Mississippi State, but later moved to Madison County.

Rick Cleveland contributed to this story. 

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.