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Liberty, Hugh Freeze agree to contract extension through 2028

NCAA Football: Liberty at Mississippi

Nov 6, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Liberty Flames head coach Hugh Freeze walks down the sideline during the first quarter against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Liberty and football coach Hugh Freeze have agreed to a contract extension that will keep him with the Flames through 2028.

The school announced the extension. A person familiar with the deal says Freeze will be paid an average of more than $4 million a year over the life of the contract, making him one of the highest paid coaches at the Group of Five level.

With the early signing period in December, Freeze said it certainly makes the extension more pertinent. He said it takes him out of the conversations about other coaching openings and the potential that schools would target him.

“It’s certainly something our recruiting department would get out prior to me leaving Sunday to go recruit to make sure that everyone that we’re after knows where we stand,” Freeze said. “And so I do think it’s helpful for sure, and I’m excited to get that in our recruits hands.”

Freeze said when his name surfaces in coaching searches, it is a compliment.

“What matters to me is just that I’m being as transparent with our kids and our administration and what we’re trying to do here. So I don’t really think I can ever control that,” he said. “And again, I think it’s a compliment to this place and to our commitment to being successful and to what our kids and staff have done here.”

The Flames (7-4) have compiled a 25-10 record since Freeze took over three years ago. They were 10-1 last season, capping the year with a victory against No. 9 Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl and finished No. 17 in the Top 25.

Last season also included a series of firsts for the Flames:

- Their first victories against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent - they beat both Syracuse and Virginia Tech.

- Their first national ranking and their first victory against a team in the Top 25.

- Their bowl victory also was the school’s second in a row, making the Flames just the second team to win back-to-back bowl games in their first two seasons after transitioning to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Flames have competed as an independent since making the jump to the FBS in 2018, but will move to Conference USA for the 2023 season.

Freeze, 52, compiled a 39-25 record at Mississippi from 2011-2016, but resigned after an investigation revealed he’d used a state-issued cell phone to make calls to an escort service. The school also was forced to vacate 33 victories - 27 under Freeze - for recruiting and academic violations dating to 2010.