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Liberty HC Hugh Freeze Underwent Surgery for Life-Threatening Staph Infection

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 18, 2019

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 17:  Head Coach Hugh Freeze of the Ole Miss Rebels watches his team warm up before a game against the Memphis Tigers at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.  The Tigers defeated the Rebels 37-24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Liberty football head coach Hugh Freeze suffered a potentially life-threatening staph infection and underwent emergency surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center on Friday, according to ESPN's Chris Low

Per Low, the infection "entered his bloodstream and complicated what was already severe pain he was experiencing from a herniated disk in his back."

"The doctors told me if it had been another 24 hours, that strand of bacteria could have gotten to my heart and that I would have been fighting for my life," Freeze told Low. "It's the way God works because there's no doubt that bacteria would have killed me if President Falwell wasn't so quick to make sure we got the right people involved."

Liberty originally said Tuesday (via Chris Vannini of The Athletic) that Freeze had "severe back spasms" that had forced him off the practice field since Sunday, Aug. 11. The school stated that "Freeze is currently undergoing medical treatment to relieve the spasms and will return to practice when they subside."

Freeze gave some background information on what led to him sitting out practice, per Low:

"I pushed through the day and watched film with the staff and players and walked through that night, and it was getting tighter and tighter. By the time I got home, I could barely get up the stairs. And by mid-morning the next day, I couldn't walk or do anything, and we had to call the ambulance to come get me."

Liberty president Jerry Falwell Jr. called U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary and neurosurgeon Ben Carson to seek his opinion.

Carson then discussed the matter with Liberty professor Anthony Nobles, who the Liberty website lists as having "invented and developed more than 155 medical devices, as well as leading electronic technologies, including the portable electronic book and endoscopic imaging systems."

Eventually, Freeze was moved from a Lynchburg, Virginia hospital to the University of Virginia Medical Center. Dr. Falwell flew in Dr. Dilan Ellegala on the Liberty plane from Scottsdale, Arizona to perform the surgery.

Freeze will coach from a golf cart when he returns to practice and may lead the team from a booth when the Flames open their season against Syracuse on Aug. 31.