Hugh Freeze quit his job as head coach at Ole Miss tonight for reasons nobody wanted to describe other than saying they involved “moral turpitude.” Part of the narrative, though, at least for tonight, includes Freeze’s phone records, which show a one-minute call to an escort service. According to a report by Yahoo, which was confirmed by athletic director Ross Bjork at tonight’s press conference, Freeze released a selection of the records for his university-issued phone due to a public records request. But first he got to take some stuff out!
From Yahoo (Mars refers to a lawyer for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt):
Freeze said he had the opportunity to redact numbers from his phone logs after a freedom of information request was made by Mars for his cell record. He said if there were anything nefarious about the call, he would have redacted it.
Really? He just got to take out phone numbers he felt like taking out? Bjork followed that up tonight by telling reporters that Freeze was allowed to redact “personal calls” from the phone records before they were released.
It’s not unheard of for states to exempt personal information from public record requests. The idea is that a person emailing their spouse from work about groceries or child care isn’t really the public’s business. The definition of personal information can leave open a lot of room for just taking out stuff at your convenience, though, which Freeze hinted at at when he told Yahoo that the call must have been okay because if it wasn’t he would have redacted it.
This leaves us all with a question. If you’re, say, a college head coach and one of the best-paid public employees in your entire state, and you’re suddenly leaving your job due to what your own university called a “pattern of conduct that is not consistent with our expectations,” are calls involving, say, consensual sex stuff personal or not? You could argue that either way; Ole Miss’s lawyers might well be about to find out which side has the better case.