Baylor’s interim president said in a public letter Tuesday that it would have been “unfair” for the school to fire assistant coaches when it fired former coach Art Briles in May.
The justification came in an open letter from David Garland posted on Baylor’s website announcing “The Truth” website. Baylor said the site will help with transparency regarding its handling of sexual assault cases and “our ongoing efforts to learn from our mistakes and to make the right decisions moving forward.”
Briles was suspended and ultimately fired after the Pepper Hamilton law firm’s investigation into the way the school treated accusations of sexual assault. Two other football staffers were also fired but the coaching staff stayed intact outside of Briles. Former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe was hired as Briles’ replacement.
Faced with the weight of the information from Pepper Hamilton, the Regents concluded by an overwhelming majority that Baylor University and its football program needed new leadership. No other university faced with similar circumstances has moved as decisively to change leadership at the highest levels – its President, Athletic Director and Head Football Coach.
These painful, often agonizing decisions were not based on specific incidents – but on the extent of the problems, organizational shortcomings and repeated failures to care for those who came forward to report sexual violence. With regard to assistant football coaches and other administrators, we decided it would be unfair to remove those further down in the organization for the mistakes of their leaders.
A report from the Wall Street Journal last week cited school regents who said Briles met with them two days before he was fired and told the board he regretted the situation the school was in.
The letter comes hours before a 60 Minutes Sports episode that includes a segment on Baylor. The school’s head of public safety acknowledges in the interview that the school did not react appropriately to accusations of sexual assault, including a 2013 gang rape accusation against football players.
“The Truth” website includes links to Garland’s letter, details about Baylor’s Title IX office and “articles of interest.” One of the two links — as of Tuesday afternoon — on the site is the Wall Street Journal piece, which said 17 women had accused 19 Baylor players of assaults since 2011. That statistic is included in Garland’s letter.
One of the assistant coaches kept at Baylor was Briles’ son and offensive coordinator Kendall Briles. Briles’ son had “CAB” for “Coach Art Briles” on his hands as he called plays in Baylor’s season-opening game.
In addition to perhaps being “unfair” to assistants, it would have been near-impossible for Baylor to build a competent coaching staff three months before the season. And there’s also a good chance a lot of Baylor’s coaching staff will be elsewhere in 2017 if the team hires a new head coach.
The letter confirms that the Pepper Hamilton investigation did not include a written report given to Baylor administrators. The school has continued to cite the lack of a written report as to why it can’t shed more light than the 13-page summary that was publicly released in May.
Garland also apologized to victims of sexual assault at Baylor in the letter.
That Baylor did not respond as a caring Christian community to those who were hurt grieves all of us – regents, administrators, faculty and staff. On behalf of everyone at Baylor, I want to apologize again to the victims and their families. I will do all I can to ensure this never happens again.
Baylor is on a course of continuous improvement as we work to ensure that all students have the opportunity to find and follow their calling. This is the mission of Baylor University and this will be our guide into a bright future.
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