Football and forgiveness at Liberty University

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Checking in on football at Liberty University, the evangelical Christian college founded and run by the Falwell family. What’s going on with the team?

Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has agreed to become Liberty‘s new football coach, sources told ESPN on Friday.

Say, why’s he a “former” coach?

At the time of Freeze’s resignation, Rebels athletic director Ross Bjork told ESPN that school officials found a pattern that included phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service.

Bjork separately told ESPN that once university officials dived deeper into Freeze’s phone records on a university-provided cellphone, going back as far as shortly after he was hired in 2012, they started finding more of a pattern with phone calls of the nature USA Today had earlier reported after an open-records request.

Guess who hired him?

Former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw, who resigned in wake of the school’s sexual assault scandal, is Liberty’s athletic director.

Want to know something weird?

Ian McRary, Baylor’s Title IX officer from February 2015 to January 2016, was hired by Liberty in February 2016 as associate general counsel. Ian McCaw, Baylor’s former athletic director, was appointed AD at Liberty in November 2016. McCaw quickly hired Todd Patulski, his assistant athletic director at Baylor, as the Liberty athletic department’s associate athletic director and chief financial officer. McCaw, Patulski and McRary had all left their jobs at Baylor amid the investigation into that school’s handling of sexual abuse and assault allegations; administrators were accused in one of many resulting lawsuits with having “created a hunting ground for sexual predators to freely prey upon innocent, unsuspecting female students, with no concern of reprisal or consequences.” Not all the alleged rapists at Baylor were athletes, but the athletic department under McCaw and Patulski was viewed as the epicenter of the assault epidemic.

So. I don’t want to be glib about the possibilities of forgiveness and redemption where sexual sins are concerned. Still, it’s weird that Liberty — which is dearly, deeply committed to its conservative Christian identity — apparently routinely elevates men with these kinds of public histories, at least where football and sports are concerned.

I wonder what it tells the women on campus?

Author: joeldermole

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son. He spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His honors include awards for best online commentary from the Online News Association and (twice) from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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