Shortly after Hugh Freeze resigned as head coach at Ole Miss on Thursday evening, university leadership held an 8:30 p.m. ET news conference. With ESPNews and the SEC Network carrying the event, chancellor Jeff Vitter and athletics director Ross Bjork spoke in Oxford, Miss.
Perhaps the highlight of the discussion: if Freeze had not resigned, he would have been terminated. And there is no buyout or settlement owed to Freeze as a result of this move.
Here’s a rundown of what each addressed:
What chancellor Jeff Vitter said:
- “This is a sad day for the University of Mississippi.”
- “Coach Freeze resigned this afternoon after confirming a pattern of misconduct inconsistent with the standard of this university.”
- “We simply cannot accept the conduct in his personal life that we have discovered.”
- “Every decision made at this university is made based on what is best for our students and the university.”
- “This is a painful decision, but it is the right decision.”
- “Together we will weather this storm.”
What athletic director Ross Bjork said:
- The phone call in question was detected in the middle of last week.
- “We initially attributed this call to a misdialed number.”
- “We proactively looked into the rest of his phone records.” The analysis turned up a “concerning pattern.”
- Both Vitter and Bjork spoke with Freeze on Wednesday night. Freeze admitted his actions at that time.
- They met a second time on Thursday, and Freeze offered his resignation.
- Freeze met with team on Thursday afternoon to reveal his decision. He called it a “raw and emotion[al]” meeting with coaches and players.
- “Matt Luke will serve as the interim head coach for the 2017 season. Matt is a good coach, a leader, a rock and an Ole Miss Rebel.”
- Wesley McGriff will be elevated to associated head coach.
- “This matter is not related to our NCAA case. We believe our response speaks for itself.”
- “We’re asking everyone in the Ole Miss family to support our players, coaches and our university like never before.”
- He did not acknowledge whether call was to an escort service. He said it was a private matter for Coach Freeze.
- On permanent head coach: “I haven’t even thought about a search. … It’s about the team. The team is the focus right now.”
- “I can only go on the facts, and that’s really how we made our decision. We tried to take the emotion out of it.”
- “No one is perfect, none of us in this room are perfect. We need to respect how he resigned and respect his privacy.”
- On whether players may leave the program: “It’s hard to say right now.” He added that many of them are in summer school. “We will give them space. We will listen, and we will support whatever they decide to do.”
- “We would have exercised [the] termination clause” if Freeze had not resigned.
- No buyout, no settlement on Freeze’s contract.
- Ole Miss will hire another assistant coach to replace Freeze on the staff.
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