Former Ole Miss coaches defend Freeze over NCAA investigation

Photo of Former Ole Miss coaches defend Freeze over NCAA investigation

Ole Miss is facing a litany of charges from the NCAA regarding illegal recruiting tactics, with the organization charging the Rebels with a lack of institutional control and head coach Hugh Freeze with a failure to adhere to head coach responsibility legislation, among other things.

The university responded by acknowledging some of the charges, but vehemently disagreed that there is a lack of institutional control or that Freeze was involved in any wrongdoing.

Freeze and Ole Miss have faced extensive public scrutiny, but that hasn't stopped a few individuals who formerly worked with Freeze at Ole Miss from supporting the embattled head coach.

“I have worked for 16 head coaches in my career and I ranked them 1-16 on who talked more about doing things the right way, who is encouraging and demanding the staff all the time to make sure they are abiding by NCAA rules, who is the stickler for compliance and who preached to his staff constantly about the importance of compliance," former Rebels offensive coordinator Dan Werner said to Chuck Rounsaville of, "Hugh Freeze is No. 1. He would say if you break a rule, it would hurt every family in that room and that was not something he was willing to risk.”

Werner was fired by Freeze following the 2016 season, even though the Ole Miss offense ranked first in the SEC in 2015 and fourth in 2016.

“This guy fired me. I could easily be bashing him, but I am for what is right and all I can tell you is what I heard from him in regards to playing by the rules and compliance literally every single day in staff meetings,” Werner said. “What is he supposed to do? Follow everyone around 24 hours a day? It’s impossible.

“Hugh set the tone for compliance and he monitored it to the best of his ability. That charge is just not legitimate in my mind.”

Under NCAA bylaws that came into effect in 2013, a head coach is responsible for all of his staff's transgressions, regardless of if he's aware of them.

Ole Miss self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 season as the school deals with 21 violations, 15 of which are Level I.

“We had mandatory compliance meetings all the time and every recruiting meeting, which were frequent, Hugh would tell us to do it by the rules and do it the right way,” said former Rebels defensive coordinator Dave Wommack. “I never saw any indication of any of what he is being accused of."

Ole Miss has 90 days from receiving the Notice of Allegations from the NCAA to respond. The program was notified of the potential violations in February.

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