It seems another "troubling pattern" has been found in the phone records of former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.
According to a report from the USA Today, there are records of over 200 phone calls between Freeze and Lee Harris, a disassociated booster who allegedly gave a recruit cash and free food at his restaurant. The calls between Freeze and Harris took place between January 2015 and the end of Freeze's time at Ole Miss last month.
The phone calls included the period in which Harris became a part of the NCAA's investigation into Ole Miss and continued before and after his interview with the NCAA on Nov. 16, 2016, in which he provided information that was determined to be false.
Freeze was not named or deemed culpable in the specific NCAA allegation related to Harris, and it is not publicly known what the two men discussed in the calls. According to Freeze's attorney, H.G. Watkins, Freeze and Harris met by "happenstance" sitting next to each other at church at some point after Harris' alleged violations occurred, formed a relationship and played golf together. Watkins said Freeze never discussed the NCAA case with Harris, which would potentially be a violation of bylaw 10.1 relating to unethical conduct.
Freeze's attorney also told USA Today that the conversations between Freeze and Harris were not about the NCAA investigation into Ole Miss.
"I believe that unequivocally. One thing Hugh Freeze has done throughout this is not discuss the case with anyone," Watkins said. "Part of the problem with NCAA rules is the school can't talk about the case with Hugh Freeze and he can't talk about the case with his coaches or players. He's isolated in all this. That's why I can say categorically he didn't talk about the case."
According to the NCAA in its Notice of Allegations against Ole Miss, Lee Harris allegedly provided Leo Lewis -- a linebacker recruit who would wind up at Mississippi State -- with improper benefits. Lewis claimed in interviews with the NCAA that Harris gave him "two or three cash payments of between $100 and $200" during visits to Funkys Pizza, a restaurant Harris owns. Harris also provided free food and drinks for Lewis and his family.
Phone records also showed that Harris had texted Lewis shortly before signing day in 2015 and called him despite Harris telling NCAA investigators he hadn't communicated with Lewis. Ole Miss itself acknowledged contact between Harris and members of its coaching staff during the same time period, and while it disputes the claim that any cash exchange happened, the school disassociated Harris from the program during its NCAA probation.
As for the calls between Freeze and Harris, the first ones took place in January 2015 (the month before National Signing Day), but according to the USA Today report, the calls between the two were rare and "sporadic" through the rest of the year. That changed in 2016 when there were 158 calls between them with the report saying the two "communicated almost every day" between March 2016 and July 2016, sometimes several times per day. The calls between Freeze and Harris slowed down toward the end of 2016 when Harris became a part of the NCAA's investigation into the school.
Freeze resigned from Ole Miss in July following "a pattern of personal misconduct." Phone records discovered as part of a lawsuit filed against Ole Miss by former coach Houston Nutt unearthed a phone call Freeze made to an escort service.