Wednesday morning, the Big 12 conference announced action against conference member Baylor University, voting unanimously to "withhold one-quarter (25%) of future revenue distribution payments" pending verification of the changes that Baylor made in relation to the sexual assault scandal that has cost the jobs of their school president, athletic director, and head football coach, among many others.
“The Board is unified in establishing a process to verify that proper institutional controls are in place and sustainable,” said University of Oklahoma president David Boren, who is also the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors chairman. Boren and the University of Oklahoma have also been under heavy criticism for their handling of several incidents in their own football program, primarily the physical assault by now former running back Joe Mixon.
In it's response, Baylor Interim President David Garland welcomed the 3rd party review, and even stated they "had planned to hire an outside auditor to audit the implementation of our enhanced practices".
The 25% of the payout will be put into an escrow account, to be held until the review is finalized. If Baylor has made the changes they promised this summer in meetings with conference leaders, then they will receive all of the funds. What is unclear is what happens if the changes do not meet expectations.
Baylor does not expect that to be an issue, saying “this third-party review at the request of the Big 12 Conference will provide an opportunity for us to demonstrate our progress to date and our ongoing commitment in establishing Baylor as a leading institution in athletics compliance and governance and for preventing and addressing sexual assaults on college campuses.”
While the Big 12 had mentioned penalizing Baylor previously, this is hardly a true penalty, at least if the University has met its obligations. This is a move to prove the Big 12 will d what it says, and maybe a bit of grandstanding. However, this is something that needs to happen, and a 3rd party brought in by the conference, instead of by Baylor, might remove some doubt of bias.
The Big 12 however is limited in what it can actually do, both by its bylaws and also its end goal. Would the other conference members and leadership really want to penalize a fellow University harshly, and then have it turn around on them for a different scandal later? It is a fine balance of trying to look tough, and keeping yourself safe.
The 2015-16 revenue payout per school was $30.4 million, which would be $7.6 million. With revenue expected to rise for the 2016-17 year, this "penalty" could reach $8 million or more.