Ole Miss put together a thorough and lengthy response to NCAA allegations this week, as the university released a 100-plus page document that defends itself. Within the confines of that document (which can be seen here), the university takes a direct step to indicate that institutional control was not lost during the process with regard to the football program.
Most importantly, the University contests the allegations concerning institutional control and head coach responsibility (Allegations Nos. 20-21). The University has consistently satisfied each of the four pillars of institutional control: (1) “adequate compliance measures exist”; (2) “they are appropriately conveyed to those who need to be aware of them”; (3) “they are monitored to ensure that such measures are being followed”; and (4) “on learning of a violation, the institution takes swift action.”
That, of course, is not a surprise given the severity of the allegations and it would have been (much) more noteworthy had Ole Miss actually copped to a lack of institutional control. However, the way the university is handling head coach Hugh Freeze is certainly worthy of examination.
Within the document, Ole Miss said the following about Freeze:
“After careful analysis of the testimony and supporting records, the University has concluded that head football coach Hugh Freeze has met it and membership’s expectations to emphasize and promote compliance and to implement strong and comprehensive monitoring.”
The notion that Freeze has met expectations for oversight seems aggressive, at least to some, in this instance. With that said, the head coach had the opportunity to respond and he also released a lengthy statement that included many stances. Chief among them is the fact that he did fail in his duties to “educate and monitor his staff” during his tenure.
“These allegations do not arise because of a failure by Coach Freeze to properly educate and monitor his staff, but, if true, reflect particular staff members’ deceit or carelessness. These choices have irreparably damaged Coach Freeze’s reputation and put him and his program at risk for penalties that could have a lifetime effect.”
In addition, the report includes a line saying “Coach Freeze was not asleep at the wheel” and it centers in on one particular individual outside of the head coach’s office. Former staffer Barney Farrar has been in the cross-hairs for some time and Freeze certainly doubles down on that.
Freeze’s report indicates that he was “stunned and disgusted” when it came to Farrar’s actions and, while there are others involved, the response certainly places Farrar in the least optimal light. Frankly, there is a lot going on here and the only way to uncover it all is by wading through the (very) long documents. In the end, though, Hugh Freeze isn’t admitting to much and the university, at least for now, isn’t pinning it on the head coach either.