So Ole Miss wants us to believe Hugh Freeze knew nothing of infractions?

Ole Miss self-imposed a one-year bowl ban but coach Hugh Freeze's program may get hit with more penalties by the NCAA. (AP photo)

Ole Miss self-imposed a one-year bowl ban, but coach Hugh Freeze’s program may get hit with more penalties by the NCAA. (AP photo)

Ole Miss is about to get slammed by the NCAA. But the school responded Wednesday by admitting to only some of the new serious recruiting violations leveled against the football program and then did the most predictable thing of all: They put a circle of administrators and lawyers around its most prized possession — coach Hugh Freeze.

The Rebels self-imposed a one-year bowl ban after getting hit with eight new allegations. The most serious charges involve facilitating contact between a recruit and two boosters who provided cash payments of $13,000 to $15,600 between April 2014 and February 2015, as well as the mother of infractions: a lack of institutional control.

The university took the unusual step of releasing a 20-minute video (which you can view below) with chancellor Jeff Vitter, athletic director Ross Bjork and borderline comatose-looking Freeze. These are the comments that stood out to me.

• Vitter said school officials “vigorously disagree with some key allegations,” and conceded that they “have had our differences on occasion with the NCAA about the investigative process.” But he thanked the NCAA for the investigative process ending.

Comment: Mississippi has a right to complain about the length of this investigation. But it was extended after former Rebels offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil said on NFL draft night in April that he accepted cash from an unnamed coach while he was at the school. It’s worth noting that none of the new allegations stem from those draft-night comments.

• Bjork suggests that the program and this year’s players “will pay the price for the actions of a few.”

Comment: There’s some degree of truth to that. However, the suggestion that “only a few” would be aware of impermissible benefits, none qualifying as a superior, strikes me as bunk.

• Vitter again: “The university will fight the charges that it lacked institutional control and that our head football coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance or fully monitor his staff.”

Comment: Of course. This broad NCAA allegation can land the hardest blow, including multiple years of probation, significant loss of scholarships, a bowl ban of one or more years and, in extreme cases, the NCAA’s “death penalty.” Ole Miss has been charged with 21 violations by current or former members of the football staff. Not all are “Level 1” but certainly enough are to crush the program for a while. The program already has self-imposed the loss of 11 total scholarships in football from 2015 to 2018.

In referencing “our head football coach,” Ole Miss also is looking to protect Freeze. Why? Because he has won a lot of games (last season’s 5-7 record notwithstanding). But the NCAA has charged that an assistant facilitated contact between boosters and recruits. The suggestion that the assistant somehow went rogue and took these actions without the team’s head coach and relative CEO of the program knowing about it seems highly unlikely.

Comment from Freeze: “I am extremely disappointed to learn that any member of my staff violated any SEC or NCAA rules and as the head coach I regret those actions. … Contrary to the allegations, I have demonstrated throughout this process that I have a strong record of promoting compliance and monitoring my staff and I look forward to presenting that evidence to the committee on infractions.”

Comment: I’m not sure how Freeze can provide evidence that he did not know something was taking place. But good luck with that.

In 2013, Freeze sent out the following comment on Twitter amid allegations. He later deleted it but it lives on in cyberspace.

By deleting the Tweet, is Freeze now conceding that nobody has been slandered?

Yahoo sports’ reported last August that the NCAA granted immunity to players at Mississippi State and Auburn who had been recruited by Ole Miss. Buckle up, Rebels fans. This is not going to end well.

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Reader Comments 0

25 comments
forexbomb
forexbomb

So what... It pales to what goes on at Alabama, or any other competitive school in the country....  Please...

NOVAJacket
NOVAJacket

Hugh Freeze has been cheating since he was a HS coach if anyone bothers to check. This surprises no one in the coaching profession....

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

@NOVAJacket Don't know anything about CHF's background but the red flags that went up in 2013 were not all raised by coaches.  College football fans everywhere in the South knew that there was 'something rotten in Denmark'.

OldBlindDawg
OldBlindDawg

Hey Jeff - Ole Miss has to rally around Freeze least they would be admitting his reckless behavior which puts the NCAA Clowns in a position of "See". 


I think you can count on Freeze being run out of town AFTER the NCAA hits them upside the head. 

dawg fan
dawg fan

Ole Miss should join the ACC where it seems like half the conference is in trouble with the NCAA at any given moment. They'd fit in well over there.

All Cheater Conference.

Mulk
Mulk

@dawg fan


I am not really sure if you are a fan of a conference or not (most SEC fans claim Bama's national championships as their own) but you can Google worst offenders for NCAA sanctions and it will not be the ACC.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Wait till they catch Kirby's bagman!!

OH:IO
OH:IO

Cue Sgt. Schultz

Paul-jr
Paul-jr

It's time to pay the piper

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Not many good players will be going to Ole Miss for quite some time!  They are burnt toast!!!  How many of the current roster will transfer, 10, 12, 15? Ole Miss will be playing Iowa 8 man football before long!

Mulk
Mulk

When the 5 stars started surfacing at Ole Miss, Bama, LSU and Missy St. were not going to sit idle. Ergo, all the innuendo about Ole Miss and the defensiveness of Freeze in 2013.


Why would Ole Miss rally around Freeze. They should have separated themselves from him. It would have looked better to the NCAA.

OH:IO
OH:IO

Eric Seger @EricSeger33

Like, Houston Nutt cheated and went 10-22 in conference play.

Hugh Freeze kept cheating and is 19-21 in the conference in 5 seasons. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Hypocrite???

No hypocrisy from me, liar. You're the one who spent years on here calling out posters who brought up your team's sordid past. Then you do the same thing in criticizing others.

That's yet another reason you're the AJC's most offensive lying hypocrite.

Quit your damn whining, and own it!


DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Nutt??? Still living in the past, lying hypocrite?

Like, Tressel lied, covered up, and got the well-deserved axe.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawgNole


Speaking of the past......Free Shoes U! 


Hypocrite

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawgNole @OH:IO


Free Shoes U! 


Free Shoes U! 


And remind us, did Herschel drive a Trans Am?


P.S. ITALICS! 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Who is it bringing up the past yet again, lying hypocrite?

OH:IO
OH:IO

@jarvis1975


2015's Natty is good for a few years anyway. 


dogs? 19 freakin 80.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

2015???

Still living in the past, lying hypocrite?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

That it does, but it's still living in the past, for which you hypocritically criticize other posters--one of the many reasons you've earned the disgusting distinction of being the AJC blogs' chief lying hypocrite.