Ole Miss football coach ‘seeking to get his life back together’

Ole Miss football coach ‘seeking to get his life back together’

By David Roach
Baptist Press

The forced resignation of Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze — an outspoken follower of Jesus — amid what the university described as “moral turpitude” has left believers disappointed and expressing hope for repentance.

“I truly believe that [Freeze] is a good man,” said Mississippi pastor Clarence Cooper, a friend of Freeze’s for two decades. “And he has been overtaken with a fault. In his text to me was, ‘I love you. Please pray for me. Please stand by me and pray for my family.'”

Freeze, a regular speaker at churches and conferences whose Twitter account is filled with Christian references, resigned July 20 after the university discovered a “pattern of personal misconduct inconsistent with the standards we expect from the leader of our football team,” Chancellor Jeff Vitter said according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

According to media reports, Freeze’s phone records indicate he placed a one-minute call to a female escort service from his university-issued cell phone.

Ole Miss did not reference any specific call, but athletic director Ross Bjork said a detailed examination of Freeze’s phone records revealed “a concerning pattern” that would have triggered termination for “moral turpitude” had he not resigned. Media reports have not disclosed the specific conduct for which Freeze was forced to resign.

Freeze’s exit is unrelated to an NCAA investigation of Ole Miss for alleged rules violations, Sports Illustrated reported.

‘Fruit of repentance’

Cooper, pastor of Brandon (Miss.) Baptist Church, said Freeze seems to have demonstrated initial fruit of repentance.

Freeze is seeking “to get his life back together again, get his mind clear and get things right between him and the Lord,” Cooper said.

A former Mississippi Baptist Convention president, Cooper said Freeze is not “a fake” when it comes to his Christianity.

“The closer a man is to God, the greater the temptations and the pressures are,” Cooper said.

Pinelake Church, the multisite Southern Baptist congregation Freeze and his family attend, said it will help the Freezes through this difficult season of life.

“The Freeze family is a part of our Pinelake Church family,” the church told BP in a statement. “We want to honor their privacy during this time. As a church, we are called to love and shepherd people from a biblical perspective, no matter their position. Our prayers are with the Freeze family.”

Steve Mooneyham, director of missions for the Gulf Coast Baptist Association in Gulfport, Mississippi, said Freeze’s misconduct has made for a “sad time” in Mississippi.

A “mature” reaction to Freeze’s sin is to “recognize the disappointment but … also recognize the admonition [Galatians] 6:1 to be honest about things [and] to move toward restoration,” said Mooneyham, an 18-year season ticket holder for Ole Miss football.

“To forgive is not to minimize the depth and the greatness of the sin,” Mooneyham said. “… I want [deep guilt] to drive [Freeze] to the cross, because it’s at the cross that we find a great love by a heavenly Father who loves us despite our faults, who gave His Son to save us from our faults and to redeem us.”

In five seasons with Ole Miss, Freeze was 39–25, including a 2016 Sugar Bowl victory.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This article is an edited version of the full story on Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.