Good on Baylor for Firing Art Briles, But Could Have Done More

baylorWell, looks like we may have a bit of closure at Baylor University.

The Board of Regents fired head football coach Art Briles in wake of the mishandling of the sexual assault cases at the school – or, as they put it, “suspended with intent to terminate”.

It was apparent that while the full details of the independent report conducted by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton that Briles was implicated in the allegations.  And boy, were those allegations damning.

The following passage from the report put it all together in what is clearly not a good look for the Baylor program:

“Baylor failed to take appropriate action to respond to reports of sexual assault and dating violence reportedly committed by football players. The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University. In certain instances, including reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, athletics and football personnel affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence and dating violence to an appropriate administrator outside of athletics. In those instances, football coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or a parent of a complainant and did not report the misconduct. As a result, no action was taken to support complainants, fairly and impartially evaluate the conduct under Title IX, address identified cultural concerns within the football program, or protect campus safety once aware of a potential pattern of sexual violence by multiple football players.”

And if that wasn’t damning enough…

In addition, some football coaches and staff took improper steps in response to disclosures of sexual assault or dating violence that precluded the University from fulfilling its legal obligations. Football staff conducted their own untrained internal inquiries, outside of policy, which improperly discredited complainants and denied them the right to a fair, impartial and informed investigation, interim measures or processes promised under University policy. In some cases, internal steps gave the illusion of responsiveness to complainants but failed to provide a meaningful institutional response under Title IX. Further, because reports were not shared outside of athletics, the University missed critical opportunities to impose appropriate disciplinary action that would have removed offenders from campus and possibly precluded future acts of sexual violence against Baylor students. In some instances, the football program dismissed players for unspecified team violations and assisted them in transferring to other schools. As a result, some football coaches and staff abdicated responsibilities under Title IX and Clery; to student welfare; to the health and safety of complainants; and to Baylor’s institutional values.”

And finally, the money shot:

“Pepper also found examples of actions by 2 University administrators that directly discouraged complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes, or that contributed to or accommodated a hostile environment. In one instance, those actions constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.”

Retaliation against the victim of sexual assault?  How (plucking) disgusting of Briles and Co.!

The report goes on to say the Baylor football staff took it upon themselves to handle discipline internally rather than let the university take control.  So yes, good on Baylor for getting rid of Briles (and possibly the rest of his coaching staff) for his role in mishandling the sexual assault cases.

However, I believed Baylor could have done more.

The Board should have also fired president Kenneth Starr (yup, THAT Ken Starr) and athletic director Ian McCaw.  Instead, the former is in the process of moving to the role of chancellor and being assigned a spot in the university’s law school while the latter was sanctioned and put on probation.  So in essence, both dudes got a mighty slap on the wrist.

I found that to be utterly ridiculous.  I don’t believe for a minute that both Starr and McCaw knew NOTHING.  I also believe that those sexual assault cover-ups were orchestrated from the top down.

So while Baylor should get props for doing the right thing in firing Briles, the university should be given an “Incomplete” for failing to completely clean house.

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