NCAA sanctions Baylor, but not for failing to report or address allegations of sexual violence by football players

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Baylor's football program avoided NCAA sanctions for failing to report allegations of sexual violence by players and for not addressing those issues on its campus.

The Committee on Infractions hearing could not conclude that Baylor violated NCAA rules with its actions, according to a release Wednesday.

The school has been punished by the NCAA after the Bears were found to have violated recruiting rules and provided impermissible benefits to players.

The punishments handed down in the case include four years of probation, a reduction in official and unofficial visits during the 2021-22 academic year and a show-cause order of five years for a former assistant director of football operations.

The decision comes almost 10 years after the NCAA hit Penn State with major sanctions for its handling of child sexual abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. In that case, the school was hit with a four-year postseason ban, a reduction of 10 scholarships in each year of the ban and a $60 million fine. The football program also was forced to vacate 112 victories during a 14-year period.

NCAA president Mark Emmert says he envisions major changes ahead for the organization.
NCAA president Mark Emmert says he envisions major changes ahead for the organization.

A lawsuit forced the NCAA to rescind much of the penalties two years later when the organization backed down after emails showed some of its leadership questioned whether it had the jurisdiction to impose sanctions for something outside its purview.

The Committee on Infractions panel overseeing the Baylor case found the football staff's failure to report three instances of alleged actual or threatened violence by football players did not constitute impermissible benefits because of a campus-wide culture of nonreporting.

"Baylor admitted to moral and ethical failings in its handling of sexual and interpersonal violence on campus but argued those failings, however egregious, did not constitute violations of NCAA rules. Ultimately, and with tremendous reluctance, this panel agrees," the panel said in its decision. "To arrive at a different outcome would require the [committee] to ignore the rules the Association's membership has adopted — rules under which the [committee] is required to adjudicate. Such an outcome would be antithetical to the integrity of the infractions process."

NCAA President Mark Emmert suggested the organization's constitution committee being convened in November and national convention in January should be used to create new rules that would make schools culpable for behavior related to sexual violence.

"The conduct by some former Baylor administrators, coaches, and student-athletes described in today's Committee on Infractions decision is unacceptable and runs counter to the values of the NCAA," a statement by Emmert said. "Schools have taken many steps to address sexual violence on campus, but as the COI points out, the authority of the NCAA in this area is very limited today. This is a clear demonstration of why the Association needs transformational change to create alignment between authority and responsibility to address the most critical issues in college sports."

The 51-page report by the Committee on Infractions noted the actions of former Baylor football coach Art Biles, who was fired in 2016 amid the sexual assault scandal. While not attributing an NCAA violation to his behavior, the panel found it "troubling."

"The panel gave careful scrutiny to the head coach's handling of the specific instances of alleged sexual assault, interpersonal violence and threats of violence that are at the center of this case," the report said. "In each instance, when the head coach received information from a staff member regarding potential criminal conduct by a football student-athlete, he did not report the information and did not personally look any further into the matter. He generally relied on the information provided to him by his staff and likewise relied on them to handle problems. His incurious attitude toward potential criminal conduct by his student-athletes was deeply troubling to the panel. "

Briles has not returned to college coaching since his dismissal. Most recently, he coached at Mount Vernon High School in Texas before resigning in 2020.

Follow colleges reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NCAA doesn't punish Baylor for its handling of alleged sexual violence