Ole Miss’ Freeze Quits; Escort-Service Calls Cited – Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigned effective immediately on Thursday night, with the Rebels’ athletic director telling ESPN that school officials found a pattern that included phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service. Assistant head coach Matt Luke, in his sixth season as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, was named interim head coach. Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, in a Thursday night news conference announcing the move, said Freeze, 47, resigned after confirming to him and athletic director Ross Bjork “a pattern of personal misconduct inconsistent with the standards we expect from the leader of our football team.”
Pitino Gets 5-Game Ban for Louisville Sex Scandal – Louisville coach Rick Pitino will be suspended for the first five ACC games in 2017-18 for failing to monitor his program during an alleged sex-for-pay scandal, and the program will be on probation for four years, the Division I Committee on Infractions announced Thursday. It’s also unclear if Louisville will keep its 2012-13 national championship after the committee issued “a vacation of basketball records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014.” The NCAA said the school must provide a list of games impacted by the decision within 45 days. Louisville interim president Greg Postel issued a statement Thursday saying he believes the penalties levied by the NCAA “went beyond what we consider to be fair and reasonable” and that the school plans to appeal. The NCAA ruled Pitino “violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules” by failing to monitor the activities of former assistant Andre McGee, who is alleged to have hired strippers to entertain players and recruits. McGee received a 10-year show cause penalty.
Ohio State Names Holtmann New Head Coach – Chris Holtmann has left Butler to become the next men’s basketball coach at Ohio State, it was announced Friday. He agreed to an eight-year deal with the Buckeyes, according to sources on Friday. Holtmann, 45, will receive $3 million per season as the replacement for Thad Matta, sources told ESPN. Holtmann has been at Butler for four seasons, the last three as head coach. Holtmann will be formally introduced at a news conference on Monday.
Sooners’ Stoops Steps Down After 18 Seasons – Bob Stoops, the longest-tenured coach in college football, has stepped down after 18 seasons with the Oklahoma Sooners, he announced Wednesday. Stoops stated, “I felt I just didn’t want to miss the right opportunity to be able to step away and hand this baton off to Lincoln Riley and to help this all just keep going in a great direction.” Riley, 33, will become the youngest head coach at the FBS level after two seasons as OU’s offensive coordinator. Stoops will remain as special assistant to the athletic director.
Warrants Signed for 3 Michigan State Players – A district court judge signed arrest warrants for Michigan State football players Josh King, Donnie Corley and Demetric Vance on Tuesday, one day after the county prosecutor announced plans to charge them with sexual assault. The three players are accused of sexually assaulting a woman at an on-campus apartment in the early hours of Jan. 16. King was charged with first- and third degree sexual assault and one count of capturing/distributing an image of an unclothed person. Corley and Vance were each charged with third-degree sexual assault. Vance appeared in court Tuesday and entered a plea of not guilty. His lawyer said they intend to fight the charges. King and Corley are expected to be arraigned Wednesday morning.
Matta Out at Ohio State After 13 Seasons – Thad Matta will no longer be the men’s basketball coach at Ohio State, effective immediately, the university announced Monday. Athletic director Gene Smith said a conversation between him and Matta led to the determination that a change was needed. One source told ESPN that Matta wanted to keep coaching. At a news conference Monday, Matta said “never say never” to the possibility of him returning to the sideline. Smith said the Buckeyes will conduct a national search for their next coach. He also said Ohio State will honor the remaining three years on Matta’s contract.
LaVar Ball’s Big Baller Brand on Thursday unveiled the ZO2 shoe line that he designed for his son Lonzo, with the main pair debuting at $495 on the company’s website. A Lonzo Ball-autographed pair of the shoes, in the “Wet” color scheme, are being sold for $995. Sandals with Lonzo Ball’s logo on the top are $220 per pair. The main shoe has a “microfiber python texture” in matte black and what the website describes as a “Delorean finish.” The Big Baller Brand sells its gear on its website, with shirts and hats ranging from $38 to $100.