Liberty has reached a new deal that links Hugh Freeze to the school through the 2028 season, with sources telling ESPN that the extension will make him one of the highest-paid non-Power 5 coaches in college football.
The university announced the new contract Wednesday without disclosing financial terms. Sources told ESPN that Freeze's total financial package would average more than $4 million annually over the length of the contract.
According to sources, Freeze's new deal will be worth more than or at least comparable to what five SEC coaches are making.
In his third season at Liberty, Freeze has the Flames 7-4 heading into their regular-season finale Saturday against Army. He guided Liberty to a program-best 10-1 record a year ago and a No. 17 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.
In a Wednesday news conference, Freeze stressed how important the security and the length of the deal is, especially in recruiting circles.
"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."
Liberty is one of two teams in NCAA history to win bowl games during their first two full seasons at the FBS level. The Flames beat No. 9-ranked Coastal Carolina 37-34 in overtime in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl last season. It was Liberty's first-ever win over a nationally ranked FBS opponent. During Freeze's first season in 2019, Liberty beat Georgia Southern 23-16 in the Cure Bowl.
Liberty has competed as an independent program in football since moving up to the FBS level in 2018, but it will move to Conference USA beginning with the 2023 season.
Freeze received an extension and raise a year ago that took him through the 2026 season and increased his salary to more than $3 million per year.
"We are grateful for Coach Freeze's outstanding leadership of our football program and positive impact on our student-athletes," athletic director Ian McCaw said in a statement. "Liberty football continues to thrive and we are excited that Coach Freeze will lead our transition into Conference USA."
As Ole Miss' coach, Freeze guided the Rebels to 19 wins during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the latter season capped by the school's first Sugar Bowl victory since 1970. Freeze resigned July 17, 2017, after the school said it found a pattern of improper calls on his university-issued cellphone.
Freeze, one of the top offensive minds in the college game, was out of coaching for two years after leaving Ole Miss. He talked to Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee about various coordinator/assistant roles before taking the Liberty job. He's now quite content with the Flames.
"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," 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."