Auburn brings in Hugh Freeze, but the hiring comes with baggage

In the past few days since reports of Auburn’s hiring of Hugh Freeze began to surface, the football coach’s past transgressions have returned to the forefront, from NCAA violations under his watch at Ole Miss to his social media use. The overall reaction was part of the pushback to Freeze’s hire on social media and in the email inboxes of athletic director John Cohen, school president Chris Roberts and other Auburn board of trustees members.

Fans expressed dismay about Freeze’s candidacy on multiple fronts. Some reacted to Freeze’s responses to tweets posted by a student who sued Liberty, Freeze’s previous employer, for its inaction regarding sexual assault allegations before Freeze got there. Other fans were disturbed by additional scandals that followed Freeze in the past.

Incidents go back to the late 1990s, when three women who were students at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis told USA Today in 2017 that Freeze made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate behavior. That year, the coach was forced to resign from Mississippi after an internal investigation found “a concerning pattern” of calls to escort services on his school-issued cellphone. When the program was under investigation for NCAA violations, Freeze and others at the school tried to spin the situation to recruits and media as primarily an issue involving other sports or his predecessor, Houston Nutt. When the lengthy NCAA notice of allegations came out, that turned out to be false: The violations yielded a two-year postseason ban and major recruiting restrictions.


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