The phone calls to escort services that led to the removal of former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze came while he was traveling on recruiting trips in the school’s plane, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Freeze resigned on July 20 after Ole Miss officials said they found a “concerning pattern” in his phone calls, later revealed to be calls to escort services. The call that tipped the school off was a Jan. 19, 2016 call to a Tampa escort service. That call was uncovered by former Rebels head coach Houston Nutt’s attorney as part of a defamation lawsuit against the school. (Nutt’s suit was dismissed earlier this month.) The school initially believed the call was a “misdial” but further investigation found it was no accident.
Although school officials had previously declined to characterize the alleged misconduct, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said in response to questions from the Journal about Freeze’s travel that the university’s investigation uncovered “calls of a similar nature” over the course of several years, often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.
The analysis of Freeze’s travel showed he had called “other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites,” athletic director Ross Bjork told the Journal.
Freeze was the Rebels’ most successful coach in recent memory, compiling a 39–25 record in five seasons. Ole Miss rose as high as No. 3 in the AP poll in 2014 and 2015 and beat Oklahoma State 48–20 in the Sugar Bowl after the 2015 season.