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Friday, June 14, 2024

Auburn Will Pay Hugh Freeze $6.5M A Year Despite His Fraught Past

  • Auburn announced Hugh Freeze would be the program’s next head football coach.
  • Freeze comes with a beleaguered past in tow, but will still earn a reported average of $6.5 million a year.
New Auburn football head coach Hugh Freeze speaks to media
Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

On Monday, Auburn announced Hugh Freeze would be the program’s next head football coach. 

Freeze, who has a solid regular- and bowl season record but no major accolades, won’t be making as much as other SEC coaches — five of whom are earning at least $9 million annually. 

But he’ll still earn a reported average of $6.5 million a year despite a beleaguered past. Auburn was even willing to shell out $3 million to steal Freeze away from Liberty.

  • Freeze resigned from Ole Miss in 2017 after a lawsuit revealed that he had made several calls to escorts. That wasn’t the only scandal, however — the news came out as part of an investigation into major recruiting violations. 
  • After he left the Rebels, multiple women accused Freeze of sexual misconduct during his time as a high school football coach. He denied these allegations at the time. 
  • In 2018, Freeze was hired at Liberty. But even in that role, he came under fire for sending DMs over Twitter to a student involved in a lawsuit against the university for mishandling sexual misconduct allegations. 
Ole Miss football head coach Lane Kiffin signals to players during college football game

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None of this baggage was a dealbreaker, however.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Auburn athletic director John Cohen said that “Coach Freeze was transparent with his past transgressions. He showed remorse and had an accountability plan he’s used for the last five-plus years. Everything he disclosed turned out to be accurate.”

In its vetting process, however, the school reportedly never reached out to the Liberty student he DMed multiple times on Twitter.

Freeze said reports his contract stipulated he could no longer use social media were untrue. But no one has denied that the school hired a PR consultant to help with the hiring announcement — suggesting the school was well aware of Freeze’s soiled reputation but was determined to hire him anyway.

During the press conference, Freeze asked fans to allow him to earn their trust. Even if he can’t succeed at that, he’ll at least earn his millions.

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