The Hugh Freeze saga at Ole Miss just keeps going…
Freeze was forced to resign last week after calls related to an escort service were found on his school-issued phone, a revelation uncovered by former coach Houston Nutt’s on-going lawsuit against the University. The fallout from that lawsuit has continued to escalate in recent days, as Nutt’s attorney, Thomas Mars, is now accusing Ole Miss of “stonewalling tactics” with regards to the request of documents related to the case.
From USA Today:
In a letter sent to Ole Miss general counsel Friday and shared with USA TODAY Sports, Mars says the schools is engaging in “stonewalling tactics” for dealing with requests under the Mississippi Open Records Act.
“From the very outset, the University has found all kinds of creative and illegitimate reasons to delay producing documents, redact documents without legal justification,” he wrote.
Nutt’s lawsuit alleges that Freeze and Ole Miss colluded with the media to issue false or misleading information about Nutt’s tenure with the school from 2008 to 2011. The lawsuit claims that information related those allegations will be found in Freeze’s full phone records, and that Ole Miss has been uncooperative in handling the request in line with Mississippi’s open records laws.
“There’s nothing they can do with those records except produce them,” Mars told USA TODAY Sports. “There’s no reason for lawyers to look at them. They’re not allowed to redact them. Phone records aren’t privileged under any circumstances. This is just a bogus exercise they’re manufacturing to try to put a huge price tag on these records and deter me and other people from getting their hands on them. They can’t make me pay for their lawyers to review them. That’s their problem.”
The scandal is the latest in what has been an on-going disaster for the Ole Miss football program and athletic department. The school is currently under NCAA investigation for allegations of improper benefits given to recruits and players, some of which relates to Nutt’s lawsuit against the school. While Ole Miss has self-imposed a postseason ban for football in 2017, the NCAA has still yet to rule and hand down their own punishments on the case.
Former offensive coordinator Matt Luke is currently serving as the Ole Miss interim head coach following Freeze’s resignation. As of now, he is expected to coach the entire 2017 season before Ole Miss searches for a permanent option.