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Ole Miss Coach Hugh Resigns Over Call to Escort Service and NCAA Violations

Just over three months ago, I wrote about University of Mississippi head football coach Hugh Freeze. Freeze carried a public persona of not just a capable coach, but a man of faith and a father figure to the young men he led on the football field. That image crumbled like a house of cards as Freeze resigned from his position on Thursday night, amidst allegations of NCAA violations against his football program and a shocking personal scandal.

The NCAA has been looking at Ole Miss' treatment of recruits and players for a couple of years now and levied 13 charges of violations against the program last year. In February, the NCAA hammered Ole Miss with another eight allegations, at which point the athletic department issued its own postseason ban, keeping the team out of a bowl game in 2017.

Of the 21 allegations against Ole Miss, 15 of them are Level 1 violations, the most serious category. The accusations range from boosters giving recruits food and merchandise to helping players with car loans to the school putting up players' families in hotels and rental properties — and so much more. The two most telling charges against the program are the famous "lack of institutional control" and the claim that Freeze failed to live up to his leadership duties as head coach. Ole Miss has copped to a few of the violations, while they are contesting others.

But the most serious reason for Freeze's departure — which included no buyout of his contract and no settlement — involves a phone call made from the coach's school-issued cell phone to a number associated with an escort service. Yahoo Sports investigated the matter:

Athletic director Ross Bjork said the initial phone call originally was “attributed to a misdial.” But further vetting of Freeze’s phone records disclosed a “pattern of conduct” that led the school administration to confront Freeze this week. Bjork said he and school administrators spoke to Freeze Wednesday night.

“Coach Freeze was very transparent, open, honest and admitted the conduct,” Bjork said, without specifying what that conduct was.

[...]

Yahoo Sports inquired last week with Freeze and Bjork about a call at 8:34 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2016, to a Detroit number that is linked via various websites to a Florida-based escort service. Freeze told Yahoo last Friday that the call had been brought to Ole Miss administrators’ attention by former coach Houston Nutt’s attorney, Thomas Mars, and that they had questioned him about it. Freeze told Yahoo he had no idea why the call was on his phone records.