It has now been a few months since Ole Miss parted ways with former head coach Hugh Freeze, but more details continue to emerge on what exactly led to the decision.
It was initially reported when Freeze resigned that calls on his school phone to escort services had been the cause of the decision. However, it looks like there were some serious NCAA violations that took place on those burner phones as well according to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal.
The new accusations began when Mars notified the school in July that he had evidence about alleged misuse of burner phones in recruiting. He alleged that coaches purchased phones with cash, sometimes at out of state locations or using fictitious names, that they used to conceal “communications with prospects that were prohibited by the NCAA’s rules.”
In some instances, Mars wrote, third parties bought the burners and then gave them to coaches. It also alleges the coaches instructed recruits not to put their names with these numbers in the contacts sections of their phone.
The Wall Street Journal had uncovered more on Freeze’s “pattern” of misconduct over several seasons, often linking the calls from Freeze to the escort services while Freeze was on recruiting trips and using the school’s plane.
Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork gave this statement to the Wall Street Journal during their investigation:
“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them. We took action swiftly.”
Ole Miss has stated before that they would have fired Freeze had he not agreed to resign.
Freeze’s phone calls were uncovered in what is an ongoing legal battle between Ole Miss and former head coach Houston Nutt. Nutt alleged in a lawsuit that Freeze and the school colluded to defame him after his firing several years ago, asserting that Nutt was responsible for recruiting violations that are now connected to an NCAA investigation.
Nutt’s lawsuit was dismissed in U.S. District Court last week over concerns of proper jurisdiction. Nutt will be able to refile his case in a Mississippi state court.
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.
[h/t SEC Country]