Memo: SEC didn’t block Freeze hire in 2018

In 2018 when a number of SEC faculties have been keen on hiring Hugh Freeze, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey despatched out a memorandum to convention presidents, chancellors and athletic administrators to tell them of Freeze’s “standing with respect to the convention.”

Freeze was employed Tuesday as Auburn’s head soccer coach.

Whereas Sankey’s 2018 memo, which was obtained by ESPN, didn’t prohibit faculties from hiring Freeze, it was a stern reminder of the situations and restrictions associated to Freeze if an SEC college had chosen to rent him at that time. Per NCAA penalties, Freeze would have confronted a suspension for the primary two convention video games of the 2018 season, however solely as a head coach and never as an assistant coach.

Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee have been amongst faculties keen on hiring Freeze in an assistant teaching and/or coordinator position following his ouster at Ole Miss.

Freeze was out of teaching for the 2017 and 2018 seasons after working afoul of NCAA guidelines whereas the pinnacle coach at Ole Miss from 2012 to 2016. He was the Liberty head coach for the earlier 4 seasons earlier than getting a second probability within the SEC at Auburn.

After rebuilding Ole Miss’ program to a Prime-25 degree, Freeze resigned within the weeks main as much as preseason observe in 2017. College officers found he made a sequence of calls on his university-issued cellphone to a number of numbers related to a feminine escort service. Ole Miss was being investigated by the NCAA on the time. Ross Bjork, then the Ole Miss athletic director, stated the 2 issues have been separate, however stated he would have fired Freeze for a “sample of misconduct” had Freeze not resigned.

Later in 2017, Ole Miss was positioned on NCAA probation for violations that occurred partly underneath Freeze, and the sanctions included a two-year bowl ban. Freeze was charged individually by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions of a Stage 1 violation and located responsible of failing to adequately monitor his soccer workers and its interplay with boosters.

“We had numerous establishments in 2018 with curiosity in contemplating Hugh which have been inquiring about what had transpired at his earlier establishment [Ole Miss] and if there was any relevant convention accountability,” Sankey advised ESPN on Friday. “The aim of the letter was to place all of our establishments on the identical web page with constant info.”

Sources advised ESPN that Sankey by no means advised anybody throughout that point that he was blocking SEC faculties from hiring Freeze. Nevertheless, Sankey did inform Freeze that it was his robust desire that Freeze go away the SEC and go coach elsewhere with out anymore NCAA points — particularly with Ole Miss nonetheless on probation — after which come again to the SEC if he had alternatives.

Sankey stated he and Freeze spoke on the cellphone earlier this week and that Sankey congratulated Freeze on his hiring at Auburn.

“I look from this level ahead. We’re knowledgeable by individuals’s previous,” stated Sankey, including that he and Freeze have had a number of cellphone conversations over the previous 5 years. “I appreciated the way in which he responded throughout his press convention, and I respect the truth that he and I, over the succeeding years since his departure from Ole Miss, may have candid and sincere dialog.”

Freeze stated a number of occasions throughout his press convention Tuesday that he was grateful for second possibilities and added, “I am unsure that is correct,” when requested about studies that Sankey had beforehand blocked him from being employed throughout the league.

“He is by no means finished something however shoot me lifeless straight and inform me what he thought was finest, not just for the convention, however for me,” Freeze stated of Sankey. “I respect a person that treats you want that.”

In his Nov. 12, 2018 memo, Sankey famous that SEC faculties make unbiased selections on who they wish to rent, however these selections should meet the expectations of SEC Bylaw, which requires establishments to contact the NCAA and SEC workplaces concerning a possible rent’s compliance background previous to providing employment.

As well as, Sankey wrote in his memo that the Committee on Infractions described Ole Miss’ violations “as slicing towards and undermining core rules of the collegiate mannequin.” Sankey added that Freeze was “instantly concerned in a number of the much less critical violations.”

Underneath the authority granted to him as commissioner, Sankey outlined in 2018 a number of the situations and restrictions associated to Freeze ought to he be employed by an SEC college.

These situations included:

• As a result of Freeze had been discovered responsible of committing a Stage I violation, the president or chancellor can be anticipated to seek the advice of instantly with Sankey previous to providing Freeze a job.

• Inside 30 days of Freeze’s hiring, the college’s president, school athletics consultant, athletic director, head coach and Freeze must meet with Sankey on the convention workplace in Birmingham. Previous to that assembly, the college would supply Sankey with a written plan explaining its full compliance oversight of Freeze and that plan must be accredited and signed by the college’s president or chancellor.

• Freeze can be required to attend an NCAA Regional Guidelines assembly in 2019 and 2020 and stay for at the very least two days.

• Freeze can be prohibited from off-campus recruiting actions till Aug. 1, 2019.

• Any future violation of NCAA guidelines or SEC bylaws involving Freeze can be topic to further scrutiny.

On Nov. 27, 2020, Sankey despatched out a revised model of Bylaw to presidents, chancellors and athletic administrators that didn’t point out Freeze by title, however it included stipulations concerning the hiring of any coaches within the SEC that had prior NCAA points.

In that 2020 memo, Sankey identified that SEC establishments have been required to “totally consider each candidate’s guidelines compliance report previous to providing employment, together with asking the candidate instantly and speaking with the NCAA and SEC concerning the candidate’s compliance report.”

Additionally, Sankey stated in that 2020 memo {that a} college’s president or chancellor was anticipated to contact him instantly to debate any teaching candidate being thought-about for employment that had “engaged in unethical conduct or participated in exercise that resulted or might lead to Stage I, Stage II or main infractions.”

Sankey added that over the previous few years he had acquired a number of inquiries from SEC faculties concerning the standing of “a number of of those people [primarily assistant coaches] and anticipate these inquiries will proceed.”