Southern Miss: Art Briles is 'not a candidate' to join football staff

Art Briles has not coached in the United States since he was fired by Baylor. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Art Briles has not coached in the United States since he was fired by Baylor. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Art Briles will not join the staff at Southern Mississippi.

News broke Monday that Briles, the former Baylor head coach who lost his job amid a sexual assault scandal, interviewed for the offensive coordinator job at Southern Miss. That news drew plenty of negative attention. And on Wednesday, the school announced in a statement that Briles is “not a candidate” for a job on the Golden Eagles’ staff.

“We have met with Art Briles regarding a position with the Southern Miss football program,” a statement from school president Rodney D. Bennett and interim athletic director Jeff Mitchell reads. “Following that meeting, we informed him that he is not a candidate. The university will have no further comment on this matter.”

Southern Miss coach: Briles deserves ‘second chance’

Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson said in a statement that he disagrees with the decision and that Briles “deserves a second chance.”

“Although I respect the decision of Dr. Rodney Bennett, I disagree with it,” Hopson said per the Sun Herald. “I am so grateful for the grace and forgiveness God gives me which allows me to inherit his kingdom, which I do not deserve. I have interviewed Art Briles for an assistant position at Southern Miss and I believe he is a man who deserves a second chance.”

“He is a man that seemed sincere and humble in his interview and personally he committed no crime. He may not have acted in the proper protocol, but that would be my JOB at Southern Miss! He was interviewing for an assistant position, even though I believe he will be a head coach at a major program in the near future. However, I believe he is a man who does love the Lord and deserves a second chance. He has been banned from employment in college football for three years and has been punished. I understand both sides have opinions, this is just mine.”

Briles has a 99-65 overall record in 13 seasons as a college head coach. Before eight years at Baylor (where he went 65-37), Briles spent five seasons as the head coach at Houston, his alma mater.

Briles was fired amid a sexual assault scandal at Baylor

Other than a job as head coach of a semi-pro team in Italy, Briles has not coached since he was fired by Baylor in May 2016. He was let go after the school commissioned an investigation into sexual assault accusations on campus, including many involving football players.

The investigation found failings within the leadership of the athletic department and football program and said there were “significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student-athlete misconduct.”

Baylor regents told the Wall Street Journal in October 2016 that 17 women reported assaults by 19 players who played for Briles since 2011. One lawsuit, that was later settled by Baylor, alleged 52 rapes by Baylor football players between 2011 and 2014. Deadspin published a thorough story Tuesday detailing what went on at Baylor under Briles.

Briles, who was accused of knowledge of some of the alleged assaults, said he “did not cover up sexual violence” in an April 2017 statement.

While Briles has struggled to get back into coaching, his son, Kendal Briles, is already onto his third different school since his father’s firing. After stints at Florida Atlantic and Houston, Kendal was named the offensive coordinator at Florida State in December. Kendal, who has a $1 million base salary at FSU, spent eight seasons as an assistant under his father at Baylor.

Baylor is under NCAA investigation

The Big 12 mandated that Baylor implement 105 recommendations from Pepper Hamilton, the law firm that conducted the investigation into the school. During that process, the Big 12 withheld more than $14 million in revenue and later fined Baylor $2 million. In October, the conference said Baylor had sufficiently returned to compliance with conference bylaws after implementing the Pepper Hamilton recommendations.

But Baylor still faces potential NCAA violations. The NCAA reportedly sent a formal notice of allegations to the school in October. Former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw, who was also fired alongside Briles, told CBS last week that he believes Briles will be “largely exonerated” by the NCAA.

In a statement to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, Briles said he was told the NCAA investigation ultimately kept Southern Miss from hiring him.

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