Yahoo! Sports reporter Pat Forde and USA Today’s Dan Wolken are the two prominent reporters credited with breaking the Hugh Freeze story.
Forde first tweeted of Freeze’s job being in immediate jeopardy, and Wolken soon followed with the report of the call made to the escort service. On “The Paul Finebaum Show” Friday, Wolken had an interesting comment about how Ole Miss handled the story.
“I got the distinct sense that Ole Miss leadership was not displeased that this story was about to break publicly” – @DanWolken
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) July 21, 2017
There’s plenty one can speculate about why Ole Miss did not push back against Forde and Wolken getting close to publishing a bombshell story. One thing is for sure – the Wolken story made life easier for Chancellor Jeffery Vitter and Director of Athletics Ross Bjork. In their Thursday night press conference, neither had to go into detail about Freeze’s alleged activity, only confirming the call and referencing a “pattern of conduct.”
In the opinion of Deadspin’s Nick Martin (language warning), it is only fitting that Houston Nutt ultimately got revenge by taking down Freeze through the press. Thomas Mars, one of Houston Nutt’s lawyers, sought phone records through a Freedom of Information Act request to look into Freeze and Ole Miss planting stories about Nutt in the press. Those phone records, obviously, led to finding the escort call:
Mars’s FOIA for the phone call was apparently filed in an attempt to uncover more instances of Freeze spreading misinformation to journalists. The timeline of the lawsuit’s research shows that all six of the journalists cited (Pat Forde, Matt Wyatt, Chris Low, Neal McCready, Bruce Feldman, and David Brandt) in Nutt’s suit published information leaked to them by Ole Miss on Jan. 29, just eight days after Freeze rang the escort line.
While Ole Miss may avoid speaking on Freeze seeking escorts in the future, it’s likely that more will come out from Wolken and others.