Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt’s intention ‘was not to bring Hugh Freeze down’ with lawsuit

Published 4:30 pm Monday, October 2, 2017

Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said his intention in filing a lawsuit against Ole Miss wasn’t to lead to the end of Hugh Freeze’s five-year tenure as his successor but rather to clear his name concerning the NCAA’s investigation into the Rebels’ football program.

“I didn’t have one notice of allegations, but there was a lot of blame, so my intention was not to bring Ole Miss down. My intention was not to bring Hugh Freeze down,” Nutt said while speaking Monday at the Knoxville Quarterback Club, according to The Clarion Ledger. “That wasn’t my intention. My lawyer found things, but my intention was that I wanted my name clear. Because that’s all I have. I’m sitting on the sideline working for CBS. I get to watch football, the greatest game there is.”

Nutt’s attorney, Thomas Mars, filed a federal lawsuit on his client’s behalf in July against the school, the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation and the IHL board seeking lost wages and punitive damages for what Nutt believes was an orchestrated effort to put more of the blame related to the NCAA allegations on his tenure than was accurate.

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Specifically, Nutt, who coached the Rebels from 2008-11, accused Freeze, athletic director Ross Bjork and communications specialist Kyle Campbell of conspiring to put out a false media narrative by having off-the-record phone conversations with reporters.

The case was dismissed in August for a lack of jurisdiction. Mars said he plans to refile the case in state court, telling the EAGLE on Aug. 29 that details were still being worked out.

In an effort to prove Nutt’s claim against Freeze, Bjork and Campbell, Mars filed an open-records request for Freeze’s university-issued cell phone records, which revealed a call placed to a number linked to a female escort service. A more comprehensive review of the phone records revealed what Bjork called a “concerning pattern” of behavior that led to Freeze’s forced resignation July 20.