Hugh Freeze ‘not really concerned’ about job security at Ole Miss
Published 4:02 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2017
If Hugh Freeze is worried about his job status, he’s not voicing it.
In fact, Freeze is saying the opposite.
Speaking publicly for the first time Tuesday since the NCAA levied eight new charges against Ole Miss’ football program last week in the school’s infractions case, the Rebels’ head coach said during a press conference to begin spring practice that he’s “not really concerned” about his job security.
“We have administrators that have watched me for five years do everything very closely, and they’ve been so supportive and have been unwavering in that,” Freeze added.
The university exhibited a unified front when Freeze, athletic director Ross Bjork and chancellor Jeffrey Vitter appeared together on a 21-minute video the school released last Wednesday outlining the new charges, which included the dreaded lack of institutional control and a charge levied against Freeze of failing to monitor his coaching staff.
The number of charges has risen from 13 to 21 with 15 of those being Level I, which are deemed the most serious by the NCAA. Ole Miss added a bowl ban for next season to its self-imposed penalties.
Freeze is not directly implicated in any of the allegations, some of which Ole Miss agrees with, but Freeze said the failure-to-monitor charge is what he’ll “concentrate on hard” while the university will handle formulating the bulk of the argument against a lack of institutional control. Bjork said on the video the school is continuing to investigate whether alleged payments ranging from $13,000 to $15,600 from two boosters to a recruit that eventually signed elsewhere arranged by one of Freeze’s former staff members actually happened.
Ole Miss has 90 days from last Wednesday to officially file its response. The NCAA will then have 60 days to write its case summary before a hearing with the Committee on Infractions is scheduled.
“We’ll get our day to stand before the Committee on Infractions and be accountable for the things we agree with and hopefully be able to share our perspective that may change some of those,” Freeze said.
NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 makes head coaches responsible for anybody on his staff that reports to him directly or indirectly. A violation of that can result in a suspension of up to a season’s worth of games depending on the severity of the violations committed by current or former staff members, but Freeze said he hasn’t given the possibility of that much thought.
“I really haven’t because we have so much to think about right now with spring ball and stuff,” he said. “I just don’t even let my mind go there. That’s something we would cross should we ever get to that point.”
In the meantime, Freeze said he’s ready to go through the spring with a group of players that have handled the recent news about as well as could be expected.
“I love how our team has responded,” he said. “They’ve probably been the greatest testimony and the greatest encouragement of how to handle adversity. They’ve been remarkable.”