Ole Miss

Published on May 31st, 2016 | by Shelby Rayburn

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Freeze Comments on Media “Narratives” of NCAA Allegations at SEC Spring Meeting in Destin

Speaking from the annual SEC spring meeting in Destin, Florida; Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze finally got his chance to respond to the numerous rumors and allegations levied against both him and his program by the NCAA, the media, and just about everyone with a Twitter account. The following is a transcript of Coach Freeze’s entire opening statement. Check out Rebels27/7.com for complete coverage.

Coach Freeze’s Opening Statement:

“I’ll jump right in to what many of you would like to talk about. Back in 2013 when I sent out my infamous tweet after the criticism we received for signing the class, saying if there were violations out there we would love to hear them. I ran that past my A.D. I don’t know that Twitter was the right message board to do that from, but it was from sincerity that, of there are things that are wrong, we want to know. There’s to much at stake…too much at stake with your families, your reputation.

“Since that time, we’ve spent three and a half years, countless man hours, $1.5 million in cooperation with the NCAA to search and try us, and we’ve been tried in many, many areas. That brought us to our response last week. It’s been quite frustrating not being able to have comments throughout this process while so many narratives are being introduced. But I have respect for the process. That’s what we were asked to do.

“So today I get to tell you some of the things that I told recruits, because it always comes up. I had to stay within the boundaries, obviously, in doing so. As a head coach in any program I must own everything that happens. I own the gradual success we’ve had. It’s been gradual, from seven wins to eight wins to nine wins to 10 wins. I also own some very difficult losses…two that kept us out of Atlanta with a broken leg to Auburn, a fourth-and-25 last year that would have given us a shot to go to Atlanta. I have to own all of those. I own the recruiting success that we’ve had. I also own the recruiting failures. Many, many kids we’ve lost to other SEC schools. They hurt and sting, but I have to own all of those things. I own our academic success which is at an all-time high. I have to own our social behavior, which keeps you up at night because something bad could happen tonight with any of our kids.

“I also own the area of compliance. Three and a half years of investigation have turned up mistakes that I must own. To be exact, there were four that precede my tenure at Ole Miss and there were nine that were under my watch. We have been as honest as we can throughout the process. Ross (Bjork) made a public statement that says many of those allegations date back to former football staff in 2010 and withholding a reinstatement process around Laremy Tunsil in the fall of 2015. To be exact, nine is the total for that, so his statement is very accurate.

“Of the nine that occurred under my watch, four are level ones. Of those four, three have zero staff involvement. One has a staff involved in it that we look forward to sharing our view exactly what the facts are in that case when the time is appropriate. The others are secondary or level twos and threes in the new penalty structure.

“To me, there is a difference in making a mistake and a willful intent to circumvent rules to try and gain an advantage. We’ve owned these mistakes for each of these and taken action with self-imposed penalties that have been punitive. From sitting kids out who have chose to cross permissible boundaries to disassociating boosters with financial penalties to limits on the last two signing classes to scholarship reductions, reduced days for recruiting, reduced official visits, coaches’ education, pulling coaches off the road and most recently no unofficial visits for a four-week period during spring practice.

“I stand here today owning the mistakes, but that is what they are, not some staff out trying to buy players. Their mistakes, in my opinion, did not rise to the level of termination. There’s not a single charge in our letter that charges a coach with out buying players.

“While I have struggles in life that I don’t always get right, breaking rules in recruiting is not one of them…My name and the name of Him that I represent and our university mean more to me than I can express. And it is my hope that we be known for who we truly are and these mistakes will not happen again. Although it’s been a very difficult process, a long one, I assure you it will make us better in the long run as we continue our journey at Ole Miss.”

 

David Johnson has complete coverage of Coach Freeze’s press conference at Rebels24/7.com.

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About the Author

Shelby Rayburn is an Associate Editor and photographer at The Local Voice in Oxford, Mississippi, a 16 year veteran live sound engineer, and a Mississippi Master Gardener. He is a seventh generation Lafayette County native. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History from The University of Mississippi and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Mississippi State.



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