Baylor Finally Addresses Rape And Assault Claims, Fires Briles As Coach And Starr As President

The Baylor Board of Regents on Tuesday morning voted to remove Ken Starr as president with the leadership of the board seeking to keep Art Briles as football coach, sources close to the situation told HornsDigest.com.

And then, in a wild turn of events after much heated debate - the majority of 33 members with a vote on the BU board changed everything, opting to release the most critical findings of the "Pepper Hamilton report," cooperate with the NCAA and dismiss a coach seen as untouchable (in some regents' minds) just 36 hours earlier,  multiple sources close to the situation told HD.

In addition to announcing the school had suspended Briles indefinitely "with intent to terminate," it became clear the regents board indeed removed Starr as president and offered instead to have Starr serve as chancellor "on terms that are still being discussed."

The chancellor position at Baylor holds no power. In 2005, Baylor fired president Robert Sloan and named him chancellor. He was gone a year later.

"It's a position used to segue a former president out," a Baylor source told HD. 

Baylor announced ( http://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=170207 ) athletic director Ian McCaw was "on probation" after being "sanctioned" but would "work with university leadership and the board of regents to implement recommendations as they relate to the restoration of a tone of accountability within the football program, to effective oversight and controls of the athletic department and to critically needed changes that will re-align the Athletics program with the university mission." 

Dr. David Garland, former dean and professor at Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, will serve as interim president effective May 31. Garland was BU's interim president from August 2008 to May 2010 - just before Starr was hired.

That news started to break just before the release of a report on Baylor's handling of rape and assault complaints on campus prepared at the request of Baylor by the Pepper Hamilton law firm. At least six of those complaints came from female Baylor students against five BU football players spanning seven years (from 2009 to 2016).

Sources told HD the majority of the board of regents - after heated internal debate the last two days - determined the Pepper Hamilton report should be released in full to the public and that Briles needed to be dismissed as football coach.

Briles was seen among many power brokers at the school as untouchable before the regents board began having heated discussions beginning Monday night, sources said. The coach took over a moribund, irrelevant football program in 2008 and turned it into a national power - with four 10-win seasons in the last five years, two Big 12 titles and a Heisman Trophy won by QB Robert Griffin III in 2011.

That success led to massive donor contributions to the school and the construction of arguably the Big 12's best athletic facilities, including a new, $300 million football stadium that opened in 2014.

Regents board leadership initially targeted Starr as the fall guy while seeking to keep Briles as coach, sources told HD.

"The feeling is if the board got rid of Art (Briles), they'd be sitting in a $300 million mausoleum instead of that new football stadium," one source close to the situation told HD on Monday night.

Another high-powered BU source said Starr would take the fall for the school mishandling rape and assault reports against Bears' football players, because "you can't fire Moses" in reference to Briles. 

Those sources also said Starr answered the board's vote Tuesday to remove him as president by threatening to sue for wrongful termination. Then, ESPN's Joe Schad tweeted Wednesday afternoon that Starr told the regents board to release the entire Pepper Hamilton report.

On Thursday, Schad tweeted:

"At one point, Baylor board asked Ken Starr to apologize to victims on behalf of BU and accept responsibility for what occurred on his watch." 

HD reported on Tuesday that Starr might not go quietly and that a source close to Starr had indicated some of the most heinous rape and assault claims hadn't reached Starr's desk.

On Thursday, Schad tweeted: 

"Ken Starr has told Baylor board until the fall of 2015 in no instance was the issue of sexual or interpersonal violence brought to his attn."

With it clear Starr wasn't about to go quietly as well as findings in the Pepper Hamilton report showing Briles and his staff appeared to have been involved in helping cover up rape allegations against football players, a majority of the regents board insisted that Briles needed to be removed as well. 

"It's clear that there was a movement to hang the problems at Baylor around Ken Starr's neck," said Vincent Harris, a 2009 Baylor graduate and guest faculty member at BU who started a petition drive to keep Starr - KeepKenStarr.com - after reports by HornsDigest and others broke that Starr had been voted out as president.

"But in the last 36 hours, the Baylor family came together with the public in their support of Ken Starr and in demanding answers and transparency."

One source close to the situation said, "It's clear the regents board initially thought it would be cheaper just to make Starr the scapegoat and that Ken Starr would just go quietly into the night. But finally the board sided with what's right and with transparency on behalf of the victims in this case." 

In a document titled "Findings of Fact"  ( http://www.baylor.edu/rtsv/doc.php/266596.pdf ) released by Baylor Thursday, it said:

"Baylor failed to take appropriate action to respond to reports of sexual assault and dating violence reportedly committed by football players. The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University.

"In certain instances, including reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, athletics and football personnel  affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence and dating violence to an appropriate administrator outside of athletics.

"In those instances, football coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or a parent of a complainant and did not report the misconduct. As a result, no action was taken to support complainants, fairly and impartially evaluate the conduct under Title IX, address identified cultural concerns within the football program or protect campus safety once aware of a potential pattern of sexual violence by multiple football players."


Horns Digest Top Stories