The NCAA’s investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Baylor’s football team is reportedly putting the school’s entire athletic program on probation for the next five years. How can this be? It’s because the NCAA’s investigation is targeting the football team’s entire culture, not just the football program. That means the entire school is in jeopardy of getting hit with probation, including its athletic department.
For now, Baylor University will officially retain its status as a member of the Big 12 Conference, avoiding the end of the 2016-2017 season. Baylor has been under fire for the last few weeks, after a report from the Waco Tribune-Herald revealed a sexual assault scandal on the campus. This came after a previous investigation by the school’s board of regents, which also resulted in no punishment for the university.
The NCAA did not punish Baylor University’s football program for allegations that a football player sexually assaulted a woman in 2012, or for a report that a football player had been accused of rape in 2013.
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The NCAA ruled on Wednesday that Baylor football coach Art Briles and the university did not violate NCAA rules by their inaction, more than five years after Briles was fired in response to a scathing review of the university’s handling of sexual assault allegations made against students, including football players.
The NCAA committee on infractions put Baylor on four years probation and imposed additional recruiting limitations against the school due to other breaches including illegal perks and inappropriate recruitment tactics using a female hostess group. The NCAA did not prohibit the Bears from competing in the playoffs this season, and no scholarships were taken away. A five-year show-cause order was issued to an unidentified former assistant director of football operations who refused to participate with the inquiry.
The NCAA stated in its findings that the committee could not establish that Baylor or Briles violated NCAA regulations by neglecting to disclose sexual and interpersonal violence on campus. The NCAA’s decision is the latest example of the organization refusing to penalize schools for problems concerning athlete sexual misconduct; in 2018, the NCAA refused to take action in a case involving Michigan State and Larry Nassar and the sports program.
“Baylor acknowledged to moral and ethical shortcomings in its treatment of sexual and interpersonal violence on campus,” the committee said in its decision, “but maintained that such failings, however severe, did not constitute breaches of NCAA regulations.” “Finally, and with much trepidation, this panel agrees. To arrive at a different result, the [committee] would have to disregard the rules that the Association’s membership has approved — regulations that the [committee] is obligated to enforce. The credibility of the infractions process would be jeopardized by such a result.”
While a former Baylor president called the school’s treatment of sexual assault a “colossal operational failure,” the committee pointed out that current NCAA regulations prevent the committee on infractions from punishing institutions for how they handled such problems.
Briles’ attorney, Scott Tompsett, stated in a statement to ESPN, “My client Art Briles has been fully exonerated and absolved of all NCAA infractions charged against him.” “The behavior at issue was persistent and widespread throughout the Baylor campus, according to the NCAA Committee on Infractions, and it was approved or disregarded by Baylor’s highest levels of administration. Mr. Briles may now return to coaching collegiate football as a result of the NCAA’s decision today.”
The NCAA said that the committee looked at three specific instances of “alleged or threatened violence” by football players that were not reported by members of the football staff and were claimed to constitute illegal benefits by the enforcement staff.
The NCAA stated in a statement that “the panel concluded that those instances of non-reporting did not constitute improper advantages to football student-athletes because of a campus-wide culture of non-reporting.” “The school’s failure to prioritize Title IX implementation resulted in a culture in which teachers and staff were unaware of and/or misunderstood their responsibilities to report accusations of sexual or interpersonal abuse. The panel could not conclude that these instances resulted in improper advantages since the culture of non-reporting was not confined to situations involving student-athletes.”
The panel was “extremely disturbed” by Briles’ “incurious attitude toward possible criminal behavior by coaching student athletes,” according to the full NCAA public infractions judgment.
According to the report, when one panel member questioned the head coach about his lack of reaction to this material during the hearing, he said, “We’re talking about a lot of stuff that aren’t NCAA regulations breaches… or university policy violations. These are all felonies. We’re talking about rapes and attacks on the body.”
Despite the fact that Briles failed to satisfy even the most basic standards of how a person should respond to the kind of behavior at issue in this instance, the COI found no connection between the conduct and NCAA infractions at the Level I or II level.
NCAA enforcement staff claimed in its notice of allegations to Baylor that Briles failed to promote a culture of compliance by shielding football players from the student disciplinary process, and that Briles was involved in players’ appeals, at least one of which went all the way to former university president Kenneth Starr.
“The panel also could not find that the former football head coach failed to promote an environment of compliance or that Baylor lacked intuitional control, largely because those allegations were specifically tied to the underlying allegations that did not result in violations,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Baylor administrators concluded a two-day virtual hearing with committee members on Dec. 15, almost eight months after the committee on infractions issued its decision.
Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said at an online press conference Wednesday afternoon that the university is unlikely to challenge the NCAA’s decision in the probe, which he described as “a dark cloud” since he came on campus.
“We’re relieved to have some closure and to be able to go on and, once again, remember our errors, learn from our mistakes, learn from our history, and then manage whatever comes our way,” he added.
When asked about social media criticism that the NCAA let Baylor off easy, President Linda Livingstone said to “look at the other ways in which Baylor is being held accountable” through entities like the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Big 12 Conference, as well as the civil and criminal justice systems.
Baylor dismissed Briles in May 2016, demoted Starr, and punished athletic director Ian McCaw, who subsequently departed to assume the same job at Liberty. Later, Starr resigned from the institution as well.
Following the release of the Pepper Hamilton report, which severely condemned Baylor’s handling of Title IX allegations, the institution took action. Baylor’s student conduct processes were “wholly inadequate to consistently provide a prompt and equitable response under Title IX,” according to the Philadelphia law firm’s 13-page “findings of fact,” and “the University failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, or address its effects.”
Baylor officials allegedly discouraged certain complainants from reporting sexual assaults, and in one case, retaliated against a complainant, according to the study.
The Pepper Hamilton investigation found “particular failures” in the football program and athletic department administration, such as a “failure to recognize and react to a pattern of sexual assault by a football player and a complaint of dating violence.” “Serious concerns regarding the tone and culture inside Baylor’s football program as it pertains to responsibility for all kinds of student athlete misbehavior,” the attorneys wrote.
However, the probe into the football program extended beyond sexual misbehavior, with the discovery of a series of text conversations relating to other suspected football player offenses. According to a 2017 court declaration by three Baylor regents, the messages revealed that Briles and assistant coaches aggressively interfered in football player punishment, sought to keep their cases under wraps, and attempted to organize legal counsel for their players.
Briles questioned an assistant coach about a player who had been penalized for unlawful alcohol use in a text message from 2011 and said, “I’m hoping he’s under the radar enough that no one recognizes his identity — did he receive a ticket from Baylor or Waco cops?… I’m just trying to keep him away from our legal team….”
According to the court filing, a member of the football operations staff attempted to persuade a victim not to press charges against a player who had been arrested for assault in 2013, and Briles texted McCaw, “Just talked to [the player] — he said Waco PD was there — said they were going to keep it quiet — Wasn’t a set up deal…” and Briles promised to get an assistant coach. “That would be wonderful if they kept it secret!” McCaw responded.
According to the complaint, Briles and an assistant coach “discussed their attempts to intercede on behalf of a player who was suspended for multiple drug offenses” in October 2013. The inquiry into the football program also found that, unlike to most other Division I institutions and Big 12 Conference regulations, Baylor was not adequately testing its players for marijuana, which was in violation of university policy.
Briles and his supporters have long claimed that Baylor had “exonerated” the former coach, citing a narrowly worded letter Briles received in 2017 from the university, which stated that the university was “unaware of any situation where you personally had contact with anyone who directly reported to you being the victim of sexual assault or that you directly discouraged the victim of an allegation.”
In 2016 and 2017, Baylor regents told ESPN that the decision to dismiss Briles was based on his overall handling of the matter and what they viewed as an unwillingness to handle the concerns moving ahead, and that he wasn’t the appropriate person to lead the institution forward in the aftermath of so many allegations.
Since 2011, 17 women have reported sexual and domestic attacks involving 19 football players, according to Baylor’s regents. The university resolved a complaint brought by a female student who was a former member of the Baylor Bruins hostess program, in which her attorneys claimed that 31 football players committed 52 acts of rape between 2011 and 2014.
Briles recruited two Baylor athletes accused of sexual assault after they were expelled from their former institutions due to off-field issues. Sam Ukwuachu, a former Baylor football player, was sentenced to 180 days in prison in August 2015 after being convicted of sexually assaulting a women’s soccer player. After then-Boise State coach Chris Petersen removed Ukwuachu from the team for off-field problems, Briles was chastised for admitting him as a transfer student.
When Ukwuachu was a student at Boise State, his former girlfriend testified at his trial that he had hit and choked her. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling in November, and Ukwuachu’s 2015 sexual assault conviction was restored for the second time.
Shawn Oakman, a Chicago Bears standout defensive end, was arrested for sexual assault in April 2016. According to an arrest request, a Baylor graduate student told police that Oakman “forcibly removed” her clothing, pushed her into his bed, and then sexually attacked her. Oakman, the school’s all-time sacks leader, told cops he had sex with the lady in a consenting manner. In February 2019, a McLennan County jury found Oakman not guilty of second-degree criminal sexual assault.
Tre’Von Armstead and Shamycheal Chatman, two additional players on Briles’ teams, were charged with sexual assault in March 2017 in connection with an allegation of a 2013 gang rape. Their cases, which had been languishing in court for many years with no progress, were finally dropped in July.
Briles had eight years left on a 10-year contract extension when coach was dismissed, despite having a 65-37 record in eight seasons with the Bears and guiding his teams to at least a share of Big 12 titles in 2013 and 2014. Briles got a $15.1 million settlement, according to the private school’s federal tax filings, while Starr received $4.52 million following his departure.
Since his dismissal, Briles, 65, hasn’t coached in college football. Before returning to Mount Vernon High School in Texas, he spent the 2019 season coaching professional football in Italy. He was there for two seasons until resigning in December.
Baylor University president Ken Starr has apologized for his handling of historic sexual assault accusations at the school’s football program — but the official NCAA penalty against Baylor remains unclear.. Read more about baylor football ncaa investigation and let us know what you think.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- sam ukwuachu
- baylor football death penalty
- art briles
- baylor football ncaa investigation
- baylor sexual assault