On a day of reports and rebuttals regarding Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, one many who’s been around Ole Miss athletics a long time expresses great confidence in Freeze’s future with the Rebels.
Amid a report that Freeze has been offered a contract from the University of Florida in the range of $4.3 million a year, Florida’s official denial of that report and a Memphis radio report that Freeze has already signed an Ole Miss extension, there’s been no official word from the Oxford campus.
Not long ago official words from Ole Miss were handed down by chancellor Robert Khayat, now retired.
Throughout his career Khayat was actively involved with athletics. As a student he played for John Vaught’s football teams. As an administrator he served as interim athletics director and also a term as “president” of the SEC where he worked closely with former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer.
Khayat is no longer in an official capacity with the university but keeps an ear to the ground regarding all types of school news.
He says he puts “no stock” in the Freeze to Florida rumors.
“He’s a man of honor, and I think he sees this as the opportunity of a lifetime. This is his home, and he’s successful. He’s making a lot of money, and he’ll make more money next year I would think. I have not talked to Hugh, nor have I talked to Ross (Bjork, athletics director), but I listen to what people say,” Khayat said.
Freeze currently makes $3 million a year. Daily Journal sources have indicated that Freeze has an Ole Miss offer of $4 million a year plus more money for his assistant coaches.
That $4 million offer could rise if Florida increases its offer.
When Khayat became chancellor in 1995 the athletics budget was approximately $8 million, he said.
Tommy Tuberville became football coach that year for a salary of $220,000. It was soon raised to $400,000.
Times have changed.
Two weeks ago Bjork said the Ole Miss athletics budget, $76.5 million this year, will be over $80 million next year.
That’s due in large part to the success of the SEC Network, but multi-million dollar coaching salaries have been around a lot longer than the network.
“I believe we are in position to pay what ought to be paid. I don’t know why he would want to move. He loves the people, he loves his church, he loves his players and people love him. Everything is positive,” Khayat said.
“For the amount of money being paid to head coaches today, a coach who stays with you is very loyal. I believe our salary for coach Freeze will be totally competitive, and I believe he will stay with us.”