OLE MISS COACH FREEZE RE­SIGNS

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - — The As­so­ci­ated Press

Mis­sis­sippi foot­ball coach Hugh Freeze re­signed Thurs­day af­ter univer­sity of­fi­cials found a “pat­tern of per­sonal mis­con­duct” that started with the school’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a call to an es­cort ser­vice.

Freeze’s res­ig­na­tion brings a stun­ning end to a five-year ten­ure that saw a Sugar Bowl vic­tory, but also a wide-rang­ing NCAA in­ves­ti­ga­tion into rules vi­o­la­tions. His ul­ti­mate down­fall came af­ter school of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gated Freeze’s phone records and found mis­con­duct.

“In our anal­y­sis, we dis­cov­ered a pat­tern of con­duct that is not con­sis­tent with our ex­pec­ta­tions as the leader of our foot­ball pro­gram,” ath­letic di­rec­tor Ross Bjork said. “As of yes­ter­day, there ap­peared to be a con­cern­ing pat­tern.”

Bjork said the school’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion started last week af­ter a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest re­vealed a con­cern­ing phone call that lasted less than a minute. The school then looked into the rest of his phone records and found more prob­lems.

Bjork said Freeze “ad­mit­ted the con­duct” and that the coach of­fered his res­ig­na­tion Thurs­day af­ter­noon. When pressed to ex­plain Freeze’s con­duct, Bjork said the school needed to “protect that in­for­ma­tion.”

“His pri­vacy is im­por­tant,” Bjork said. “The con­duct was just not some­thing we could con­tinue with as our head coach.”

Co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Matt Luke has been named the in­terim coach.

“This is a sad day for the Univer­sity of Mis­sis­sippi,” Ole Miss chan­cel­lor Jef­frey Vit­ter said.

Vit­ter and Bjork both said Freeze’s res­ig­na­tion is strictly be­cause of his per­sonal con­duct and not be­cause of the on­go­ing NCAA in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Freeze — who was mak­ing more than $5 mil­lion per year — had a 39-25 record over five sea­sons, in­clud­ing a 19-21 mark in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence. Bjork said that Freeze, 47, will re­ceive no buy­out on his con­tract.

Bowman to re­place Earn­hardt Jr.

INDIANAPOLIS» Dale Earn­hardt Jr. got the re­place­ment he wanted. Alex Bowman got his dream job.

Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports an­nounced that the 24-year-old Bowman will re­place one of the se­ries’ big­gest stars in the No. 88 car next sea­son af­ter Earn­hardt re­tires.

Bowman has big shoes to fill. Earn­hardt was named NASCAR’s most pop­u­lar driver each of the last 14 sea­sons and fans of his late fa­ther of­ten tracked Ju­nior’s re­sults fol­low­ing Dale Earn­hardt’s fa­tal crash in the 2001 sea­son opener at Day­tona.

“Ever since I was a kid, rac­ing is all I’ve wanted to do,” Bowman said. “I’ve had so many people be­lieve in me along the way. My fam­ily has sac­ri­ficed a lot and al­ways been be­hind me. I would never have this chance with­out the sup­port of Dale and ev­ery­one in­volved with the No. 88 team.”

Bowman al­ready has some ex­pe­ri­ence in this job. When the 42-yearold Earn­hardt missed 18 races be­cause of a con­cus­sion last sea­son, Bowman started 10 of them in the No. 88, win­ning the first Cup pole of his ca­reer and fin­ish­ing in the top 10 three times.

Pan­thers re­lease Oher.

Carolina re­leased for­mer start­ing of­fen­sive tackle Michael Oher af­ter he failed a phys­i­cal. Oher, the sub­ject of the movie “The Blind Side,” started 16 reg­u­lar-sea­son games and three play­off games for the Pan­thers dur­ing their Super Bowl run in 2015. How­ever, he suf­fered a con­cus­sion in the third game of last sea­son and hasn’t played since. He re­mains in the NFL’s con­cus­sion pro­to­col.

• The Ari­zona Car­di­nals re-signed nine-year NFL vet­eran Chris John­son to a one-year con­tract. The 31-yearold run­ning back is ex­pected to be all-pro David John­son’s backup.

Foot­notes.

Ma­jor League Soc­cer will be­gin us­ing video re­view for all matches on Aug. 5. … The St. Louis Blues signed de­fense­man Colton Parayko to a $27.5 mil­lion, five-year con­tract just be­fore the sides were set to go to ar­bi­tra­tion.

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