Sources: Briles Not Returning As Baylor's Coach, Contract Settlement Talks Under Way

Two sources close to the situation told Wednesday a push by an influential group of big-money donors to bring Art Briles back as Baylor's football coach after a one-year suspension is dead and that contract settlement talks between Briles and the school are under way.

Briles, who took a flatlining football program at Baylor to Big 12 titles two of the last three years, was "suspended with intent to terminate" on May 26 as part of sweeping changes announced by the school following a months-long investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm into rape and assault claims on campus, including a dozen made against BU football players from 2009 to 2016.

The sources said attempts to get the regents to rethink Briles' future and bring him back in 2017 - after a one-year suspension - were unsuccessful during a regents meeting Monday night to the point where an anticipated vote on the subject never took place, according to a Baylor spokeswoman.

Mediation has begun on how to settle Briles' contract, which had eight years and nearly $40 million in guaranteed money remaining, sources told HD. 

One source close to the situation said, "It will land in the middle, probably in the neighborhood of $20 million."

Briles and an influential group of big-money donors who contributed heavily to a $300 million football stadium completed in 2014 had been led to believe by some key leaders on BU's regents board, which includes 34 voting members, that then-president and chancellor Ken Starr would be removed and blamed for the rape scandal for not having a Title IX coordinator from 2011-14 to properly handle campus rape and assault claims, sources told HD.

That all changed after an intense debate over the Pepper Hamilton findings among regents on May 24 and 25 that ultimately led to Briles being suspended with intent to terminate - even though Briles' entire assistant coaching staff remains in place under newly hired interim football coach Jim Grobe. That coaching staff includes Briles' son, Kendal, Baylor's offensive coordinator, and Briles' son-in-law Jeff Lebby, BU's passing game coordinator.

Baylor booster Bob Simpson, a co-owner of the Texas Rangers, told The Dallas Morning News he supports bringing Briles back.

"We'd like to see that," Simpson told the DMN.

Sources have told HD an investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm into Baylor's mishandling of rape and assault claims revealed 125 such claims were made campus-wide from 2011 through 2014 compared with the 12 claims made against at least six BU football players from 2009-2016. Critics of Starr say his lack of implementing a Title IX coordinator until 2014 was disastrous.

Critics of Briles say the fact at least six Baylor football players were named in rape or assault complaints from 2009-2016, including two players who were convicted of rape (Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu), shows Briles and his program were negligent in the types of players being brought in and how they were managed.

HD has previously reported that Baylor is in the process of reaching a financial settlement with Starr over his position as a tenured professor in the BU law school so that Starr will be completely dissociated with the school. Starr was removed as school president and then resigned his position of chancellor.

Athletic director Ian McCaw resigned his position shortly after assisting in the hiring of Grobe as interim coach. BU's search for a new athletic director is being led by the Eastman & Beaudine executive search firm and is already under way, sources told HD.

Six incoming freshmen football players have requested a release from their letters of intent with Baylor to enroll elsewhere. Baylor has 30 days to respond to those requests (on or about June 24), sources said. Grobe has been meeting with the players and their families to try to convince them to stay. But if those players still want their release when the 30 days expire, sources said those players will be granted their release, sources said. 

While Starr has indicated the regents board should make the entire Pepper Hamilton report available to the public, multiple sources indicated to HD there is no paper copy of the report. After Baylor commissioned the law firm to investigate the school's handling of rape and assault claims on campus, the law firm was advised to provide only verbal briefings on its findings to members of the regents board, sources said.

Baylor interim president David Garland has indicated the school has released all its going to release with regard to the Pepper Hamilton investigation, which included a 13-page, "Findings of Fact" summary. ... 

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