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Liberty University football coach Hugh Freeze has taken to Twitter to defend LU athletics from criticism around controversial hires, including direct messaging a sexual assault survivor who sued the university for mishandling her case and won.

Freeze, entering his fourth year at Liberty, previously coached at the University of Mississippi, where he was ousted for using a university cellphone to contact an escort service. Ole Miss later vacated numerous wins due to recruiting and academic violations that occurred partly under Freeze’s leadership.

Chelsea Andrews, a former Liberty student, was one of more than 20 plaintiffs who sued Liberty last year, alleging the university mishandled sexual assault cases and Title IX issues for years. (Liberty reached a partial settlement with various plaintiffs in May.) Andrews has tweeted critically about LU and its athletics program. One of her complaints was the hiring of Ian McCaw as athletic director, given that McCaw served in that capacity at Baylor University during a rampant sexual assault scandal. Seemingly irked by the criticism, Freeze rallied to McCaw’s defense.

“You don’t even know Ian McCaw,” Freeze said in a direct message to Andrews—one of several sent in recent months and verified by Inside Higher Ed—adding McCaw is a “Jesus like leader.”

Andrews declined to comment but questioned Freeze’s activity in a tweet: “Why is the head football coach at Liberty University DMing me during and after my lawsuit with LU? At almost midnight. When I didn’t tag him. & I haven’t responded to the other DMs he’s sent over the months,” she wrote. “Publicly naming so he can see that I don’t want direct contact w/ him.”

The incident, which has largely gone unreported by major and local news outlets, prompted a backlash against Freeze on Twitter, with observers calling the behavior “gross” and creepy.

Liberty University did not reply to a request for comment.

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