Baylor went 10-3 and finished the season ranked fourth in the Big 12 and 13th in the nation, making the Bears the third best team in the talent-rich state of Texas, just behind Texas Christian University and Houston. But the honors they received on the field might not be enough to preserve Art Briles’ job in light of recent allegations.
Baylor’s Board of Regents was briefed on the findings of an investigation into how Baylor officials, such as coaches, responded to sexual assault and assault allegations that involved several football players by private law firm Pepper Hamilton. The Board of Regents hasn’t been given full documentation yet, so no disciplinary actions have been taken, nor public comment made.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines released a detailed account of police reports regarding the incidents.
It's not pretty.
The account revealed that Waco police concealed incident reports that would normally be public record in a locked, private-access-only office at the department. This case involved a 2011 assault in which three Baylor football players were charged, but the reports were requested to be removed from the Waco police computer system by the investigating officer himself.
One sexual assault that reportedly involved a Baylor star player remained in “open-case” status for four years, which allows police to keep case details under wraps, pursuant to Texas open record laws. In this case, Waco police “dealt” with the victim by determining she was "deceptive."
Why did they determine this? Because they recognized her from previous allegations she had made against various people, and they assumed she was the girl who cried wolf.
In January of this year, Outside the Lines also reported that Waco police suspected former Baylor defensive end Tevin Elliot of four sexual assaults and one attempted assault between 2009 and 2012, but he was only found guilty of one. Not only did Baylor not provide support to many of the victims, but they also failed to investigate reports of assault. These are violations of Title IX federal law, a law that private universities like Baylor are not above.
The reports that criminalize the players and actions taken by the University are mountainous. But it all comes down to these three questions:
- What did Baylor officials know?
- What did they do about it?
- What are they going to do now?
The short answer to all of these questions is unclear. Speculations are circulating that firing head coach Art Briles is an option, but it's also the last thing Baylor wants to do.
Briles turned the Baylor football program around and made the school a real national contender in sports. He’s coached Baylor to four of their five 10-win finishes in school history.
He has the closest relationship to the football players as head coach, and has the most ability to take the disciplinary actions necessary to prevent future players from committing such crimes. But the problem facing his status is that he didn’t use that ability.
And while firing Briles is the last decision fans and the university will want Baylor to make, it might be the only one it can.