Ole Miss head football coach resigns amid scandal—FFRF not surprised

University of Mississippi’s head football coach, Hugh Freeze was forced to resign Thursday night after an investigation by school officials revealed a “pattern” of phone calls from the coach to a female escort service. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is unsurprised to learn that Freeze — a man known for pushing his personal religious beliefs onto his players and using his public position to promote his faith — has revealed the hypocrisy in his conduct.

In a Thursday night news conference, Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork stated that if Freeze had not resigned, the school would have “exercised the termination clause in the contract for moral turpitude.” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter described the Coach Freeze scandal as “a pattern of personal conduct inconsistent with the standard of expectations for the leader of our football team.” But Freeze’s conduct is surprisingly consistent with the pattern of public officials who shroud themselves in religious rhetoric while asking that we do as they say, not as they do.

FFRF exposed Hugh Freeze’s state-supported evangelical mission in its 2015 “Pray to Play” report. The report outlined, among other things, Freeze’s efforts to fundraise for a team chaplain, stating in part, “We have coaches that are men of integrity, character and faith to work with these young men to build a strong foundation that will lead to excellence on the field . . .” The report also calls out Freeze for using expressions of faith as a recruiting tool.

Less than four months ago, FFRF sent a letter of complaint to the University of Mississippi arguing that as a state-run entity, its football program should not be promoting the personal religious beliefs of its coaches. Freeze is well known for posting religious messages on his Twitter account.


The letter explained, “Though we respect Freeze’s right to tweet as a private citizen, he may not promote his personal religious beliefs while acting in his capacity as a University employee.” FFRF attorney Sam Grover asked that the university refrain from posting Freeze’s religious messages on its official football webpage. Ole Miss declined to take action. Though FFRF expects that the problem has now resolved itself with respect to Freeze, the university may still be liable for promoting similar religious statements from other football coaches.

Freeze is not the first evangelical Christian football coach at a public university to claim piety while engaging in bad behavior. Clemson’s coach Dabo Swinney made headlines in January after it was revealed that his players were intentionally grabbing the genitals of opposing players and hurling racial slurs at them on the field. Swinney, who regularly emphasizes his religious beliefs to players and prospects, shrugged off what could amount to sexual assault as “goofy” and “silly.”  This questionable reaction underscores the shortcoming and hypocrisy of using faith as a teaching tool when a coach is unwilling to live up to his own standards.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend