OLE MISS COACH FREEZE RESIGNS
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.
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.