OXFORD Ole Miss softball coach Mike Smith has been placed on administrative leave while the school conducts an external audit of the program, interim athletics director Keith Carter has confirmed Monday.

Smith did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Assistant coach Ruben Felix will serve as interim head coach for the duration of the audit.

Practice for the 2020 regular season will begin in January.

Carter would not give a reason for the audit and would not say if it is related to Smith’s suspension for the opening weekend of the 2019 season in Orlando. Smith was back with the team for the second weekend, a tournament at UCLA.

“We are conducting an external audit of our softball program, and coach Smith has been placed on paid administrative leave until its conclusion,” Carter said in a prepared statement. “We hope to conclude the audit by the end of the fall semester.”

The Rebels finished 41-20 and ranked No. 15 last season, defeating Louisiana-Lafayette in an Oxford Regional and advancing to a super regional for the second time in Smith’s five seasons as coach.

Smith has a career record of 935-338, 187-112 at Ole Miss.

NAIA California Baptist and McNeese State were his two most recent coaching stops before taking the Ole Miss job in 2015.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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