SEC didn’t prohibit hiring of Hugh Freeze in 2018


In 2018 when several SEC schools were interested in hiring Hugh Freeze, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey sent out a memorandum to conference presidents, chancellors and athletic directors to inform them of Freeze’s “status with respect to the conference.”

Freeze was hired Tuesday as Auburn’s head football coach.

While Sankey’s 2018 memo, which was obtained by ESPN, did not prohibit schools from hiring Freeze, it was a stern reminder of the conditions and restrictions related to Freeze if an SEC school had chosen to hire him at that point. Per NCAA penalties, Freeze would have faced a suspension for the first two conference games of the 2018 season, but only as a head coach and not as an assistant coach.

Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee were among schools interested in hiring Freeze in an assistant coaching and/or coordinator role following his ouster at Ole Miss.

Freeze was out of coaching for the 2017 and 2018 seasons after running afoul of NCAA rules while the head coach at Ole Miss from 2012 to 2016. He was the Liberty head coach for the previous four seasons before getting a second chance in the SEC at Auburn.

After rebuilding Ole Miss’ program to a Top-25 level, Freeze resigned in the weeks leading up to preseason practice in 2017. University officials discovered he made a series of calls on his university-issued cell phone to multiple numbers associated with a female escort service. Ole Miss was being investigated by the NCAA at the time. Ross Bjork, then the Ole Miss athletic director, said the two matters were separate, but said he would have fired Freeze for a “pattern of misconduct” had Freeze not resigned.

Later in 2017, Ole Miss was placed on NCAA probation for violations that occurred in part under Freeze, and the sanctions included a two-year bowl ban. Freeze was charged individually by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions of a Level 1 violation and found guilty of failing to adequately monitor his football staff and its interaction with…

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