The chairman of the Baylor Board of Regents didn't mince words when discussing the findings of an independent investigation to how it handles Title IX investigations and other compliance issues.
“We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students,” Richard Willis said in a school statement. “The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.”
Baylor fired football coach Art Briles Thursday as the findings from the Pepper Hamilton law firm were released by the school. They came amidst multiple allegations of sexual assault against former players and a lawsuit by a former student who said she was assaulted by an ex-player convicted of rape and that the school didn't act appropriately regarding her allegations.
The report (which you can view in full here and view Baylor's statement here) said Baylor's "student conduct processes were wholly inadequate to consistently provide a prompt and equitable response under Title IX; Baylor failed to consistently support complainants through the provision of interim measures; and in some cases, the University failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its recurrence or address its effects."
It also noted there were "specific failings within both the football program and Athletics department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player and to a report of dating violence. According to the full report,"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. "
The statement additionally said "there are significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor's football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct." It also said "the football program and athletics department leadership failed to take appropriate action in response" to reports of sexual assault involving football players. The paragraph at the bottom of page 11 in the report is especially damning.
In addition to the failures related to sexual assault and dating violence, individuals within the football program actively sought to maintain internal control over discipline for other forms of misconduct. Athletics personnel failed to recognize the conflict of interest in roles and risk to campus safety by insulating athletes from student conduct processes. Football coaches and staff took affirmative steps to maintain internal control over discipline of players and to actively divert cases from the student conduct or criminal processes. In some cases, football coaches and staff had inapprorpriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules and that there was no culture of accountability for misconduct.
Former players Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu are currently serving prison sentences for rape convictions. Former defensive end Shawn Oakman was arrested on accusations of sexual assault in April.
Two ex-football players, including one dismissed for a violation of team rules, were accused of sexual assault in 2013 and the allegations were not investigated by the school under Title IX guidelines until nearly two years later. Another accusation of sexual assault against a former player has been held as an open case for four years even though the case has not proceeded.
The same ESPN Outside the Lines report that noted the open case also said the Waco Police Department shielded three players accused of assault in 2011.
Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett is expected to serve as the team's interim coach in Briles' absence.
In addition to removing Briles from his job, the school said Ken Starr will no longer serve as the school's president. He's been both the president and chancellor of the university. Athletic director Ian McCaw was "sanctioned," put on probation and "will work with University leadership and the Board of Regents to implement the recommendations as they relate to the restoration of a tone of accountability within the football program, to effective oversight and controls of the Athletics department, and to critically needed changes that will re-align the Athletics program with the University mission."
The statement said other members of administration and the athletic department had also been fired, though they will not be identified and a new position of Chief Compliance Officer has been created.
- - - - - - -