Former Baylor coach Art Briles said he would apologize to victims of sexual assault by Baylor football players though he didn’t elaborate on any specifics the apology would be for.
Briles sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi earlier this week. A portion aired on College GameDay on Saturday.
“I’d tell them I’m extremely sorry,” Briles said when asked about what he’d say to victims at Baylor. “My heart aches and we’d probably have, hopefully a good cry session and then a good talk and then hopefully a hug session. Because it just appalls me that someone could victimize another human being and there’s no place in society for it and I’ve never condoned it and I never will”
Two former Baylor football players are serving prison sentences for rape convictions while other players during Briles’ tenure have been accused of sexual assault. Former defensive end Shawn Oakman is currently facing sexual assault charges.
The coach was fired in May after an independent investigation into the school’s handling of allegations of sexual assault. A summary of that report concluded that, in one instance, the football program had a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence from a player.
Briles’ apology came not long in the interview after he said he lived his life in a “righteous manner.”
“I would say that I hate that she feels that way,” the former coach said when asked what his reply would be to a victim who said there was “no way” Briles didn’t know about sexual assaults. “I’ve always lived my life out in the open. I’ve always said people may doubt what you say but they’ll believe what you do. So I’ve always lived my life in a righteous manner and I hate that she feels that way about me.”
While Briles admitted that he had responsibility for the actions of members of his team by virtue of being the head coach, he also said he didn’t know what victims would say to him if given the chance. Briles has fought to have his name removed from the list of defendants in a lawsuit filed by a woman raped by a former player.
“Certainly be a little bit apprehensive about how they felt just because part of the football team were the guys that violated them, so that puts me with that,” Briles said. “Because they’re part of the team that I coached. But I would hope they could get past that and see that each individual is responsible for his own actions and it was not a reflection of anything I felt.”
The former coach refused to comment on a 2011 incident in which a former member of the volleyball team said she was sexually assaulted by members of the football team.
“It’s a sketchy incident and really out of privacy for the people involved and respect for them I don’t think I should comment on that at this time,” Briles said.
The only time Briles got emotional was when he responded to a question from Rinaldi asking about what the coach had personally lost in the scandal. He also said, per ESPN, many decisions regarding discipline were delegated to other people.
But when Rinaldi asked about individual player incidents, Briles often said his football staff made decisions in which he was not personally involved or that he had been forced to defer to actions taken by Baylor administrators. Briles also blamed policies, procedures and lack of training for how certain incidents were handled.
“The way the chain usually works is the head coach is last to know,” Briles said of player problems. “Head coaches are sometimes protected, in certain instances, from minor issues. Now, major issues I was always made aware of.”
When asked in the TV portion of the interview if Baylor responded appropriately to allegations of sexual assault, Briles said “I think we did the best we could at that time.”
The rest of the interview is set to air Monday on Outside the Lines. According to ESPN’s written report, Briles also said that he’s learned from what happened at Baylor that he needs to be more proactive and involved in player discipline.
Those remarks are undoubtedly part of an effort to show that he’s learned from his time at Baylor and would do things differently as a head coach if he gets another opportunity.
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