Big 12 fines Baylor $2 million, will no longer withhold revenue

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A general view of play between the Northwestern State Demons and the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/teams/baylor/" data-ylk="slk:Baylor Bears">Baylor Bears</a> at McLane Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Waco, Texas. (Getty)
A general view of play between the Northwestern State Demons and the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Waco, Texas. (Getty)

The Big 12 will no longer withhold revenue from Baylor.

In February 2017, the conference announced that it would withhold 25 percent of its revenue distribution to Baylor as the school made improvements in the aftermath of its sexual assault scandal. On Tuesday, the Big 12 board of directors said Baylor had sufficiently returned to compliance with conference bylaws.

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The league instituted what it called the “Baylor University Verification Process,” which mandated the implementation of the 105 recommendations from Pepper Hamilton, the law firm that conducted a nine-month investigation into the school and its processes.

”The Verification Team is of the opinion that Baylor has in all material respects structurally completed and practically implemented the (105 Pepper Hamilton) Recommendations as of the date hereof. Whether the recommendations that require future action or are aspirational in nature will continue to be implemented in a sustainable manner will only be verifiable over time,” the league’s “Verification Report” said.

As a result, Baylor will be immediately returned to “full participation in future conference revenue distributions.” However, the school will also be hit with a $2 million fine for “reputational damages to the conference and its members.”

In all, the Big 12 withheld $14,255,000 in revenue from Baylor. A total of $1.651 million — “for legal costs associated with the Verification” — will be immediately reimbursed. The remaining $12.6 million will be “invested for the next 48 months,” with net earnings being distributed to Big 12 schools to support a variety of causes:

The approximately $12.6 million remaining will be invested for the next 48 months. Net earnings realized on the investments will be distributed in equal portions to the 10 members of the Conference on an annual basis and will be used in funding campus-wide and athletics prevention efforts focused on sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking, including, but not limited to, programming addressing healthy relationships, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and bystander awareness.

Once that 48-month timeframe has ended, the board of directors will then “determine the amount to be returned to Baylor” while also implementing the $2 million fine.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Baylor president Linda Livingstone, athletics director Mack Rhoades, and their staffs for their cooperation during this Verification Process,” said Big 12 Board of Directors chairman and West Virginia University president Gordon Gee. “We are in full support of Baylor leadership and have confidence they are moving the university forward from this chapter.”

The Pepper Hamilton investigation into the way the school handled accusations of sexual assault, including many against football players, led to the firing of school president Ken Starr and head coach Art Briles. Baylor previously said in 2017 that it had implemented Pepper Hamilton’s recommendations. The firm said Baylor failed to properly follow Title IX protocols.

Earlier this month, multiple outlets reported that the NCAA had sent a formal notice of allegations to Baylor, including lack of institutional control and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance by Briles.

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