Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze ‘kind of numb’ to NCAA investigation

Published 6:56 pm Friday, August 26, 2016

The latest development in the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into the Ole Miss football program came Thursday when Yahoo Sports reported representatives of college sports’ governing body have questioned players at Auburn, Mississippi State and perhaps at least one other Southeastern Conference Western Division school who were once recruited by Ole Miss.

According to the report, which cited anonymous sources, those players were offered limited immunity from possible NCAA sanctions in exchange for truthful information about their recruitment.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze commented on the report for the first time publicly before the Rebels’ practice Friday.

Email newsletter signup

“This has become the norm around here, and I’m just kind of numb to it. It actually makes us stronger,” Freeze said. “You’d have to ask whoever wrote the article with no (identified) sources. From our end, we protect what’s going on in (the investigation), and I would hope the same for everyone involved. I had no idea. I don’t know if it’s true or not.”

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations issued to the school in January charged the football program with 13 rules violations, nine of them during Freeze’s tenure with four of those being deemed Level I infractions, the most serious in the eyes of the NCAA. Ole Miss challenged the classification of some of the infractions in its response filed in April and was scheduled to have its hearing with the Committee on Infractions (COI) this summer, but its case was taken off the docket as the school continues to look into former offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil’s claim during the NFL Draft on April 28 that he took money from an Ole Miss staffer.

The investigation, which included the women’s basketball and track programs, dates back to 2012.

“We’re ready to get to the end of it,” Freeze said. “You can say that.”

More notes from Ole Miss’ open indoor practice Friday:

— Senior offensive tackle Jeremy Liggins is practicing for the first time this fall but still has some work to do to be fully involved with the team. The former Lafayette High standout was held out of fall camp for a violation of team standards and won’t play in the Rebels’ Labor Day opener against No. 4 Florida State.

“As long as everything keeps progressing like it is, we’ll have him back shortly after that,” Freeze said.

— Defensive end Fadol Brown wasn’t at practice. Instead, he was in Texas getting another treatment performed on his surgically repaired foot and should be back in Oxford on Saturday, Freeze said.

It will likely be a matter of pain tolerance this season for Brown, who’s had two surgeries and still hasn’t participated fully in a practice.

“They believe in a couple of days you should know whether it’s going to be helpful or not,” Freeze said. “The structure’s fine. We trust the doctors that have done it. They do it all the time. They feel the structure’s fine. Now it’s a matter of can he play with whatever pain there is.”

— Receiver Markell Pack practiced after recently having a pin inserted in his hand to help stabilize a tendon injury. Pack, who’s running with the second team in the slot, returned for the first time Thursday and should continue to participate.

“It’ll be painful initially, but I think he can do it,” Freeze said.

Watch the quarterbacks and receivers run through a drill Friday in the video below.