Hope You're Ready For Baylor, Mack Rhoades

Baylor officially introduced Mack Rhoades as its new athletic director at Big 12 Media Days Monday.

After a 10-minute conversation with new Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades after he was introduced Monday at Big 12 Media Days, you get the sense he gets it.

Which makes you wonder all the more why a guy who was the athletic director at Akron, Houston and - for the last 15 months at Missouri - said Monday:

"My dad told me, you never run from a place, you run to a place. So as I went through this process with my family, me and (wife) Amy were running to Baylor."

That prompted one Power 5 athletic director to say to me: "Things must have been pretty bad at Mizzou."

No matter how bad things were at Mizzou, there may be no more tangled web in college athletics right now than Baylor, reeling from a rape scandal involving at least six football players and one tennis player.

The school has a two-time interim president in David Garland and several officials still in place who appear to have a lot of questions to answer.

Such as senior vice president and chief operating officer Reagan Ramsower, whose office is over the BU police department and the Title IX office that went unstaffed from 2011-14 when football player Tevin Elliott was preying on BU co-eds, before becoming a convicted serial rapist now serving a 20-year prison sentence.

There should also be serious questions for VP for student life Kevin Jackson, who had Title IX responsibilities; as well as VP for operations and facilities Brian Nicholson, who had oversight of BU police as well.

As the new AD, Rhoades will now get to know Baylor's 34 voting regents, some of whom went to Philadelphia personally to get their own questions answered by the Pepper Hamilton law firm before demanding football coach Art Briles needed to be "suspended with intent to terminate" (against the wishes of some of the school's biggest donors) before the school paid him a handsome settlement, according to sources, and decided to retain all of Briles' assistants.

The decision to keep Briles' assistants came despite findings of fact by the Pepper Hamilton law firm that BU football "coaches" - plural - mishandled rape and assault allegations made against Bears' football players.

"At this point in time I'm comfortable, because there's been a lot of fact finding, and the university made the decision to retain those coaches," Rhoades said.

Rhoades' career path - ironically - benefitted from Art Briles restoring Houston's football program just before Rhoades took over as AD at UH for six years (2009-15). Now, Rhoades gets to clean up after the Briles' era in Waco.

Rhoades admitted, "I don't pretend to have a deep level of understanding of all that happened here before."

And Rhoades said he took the job after "conversations with university leadership" but without having been on the Waco campus.

On Tuesday, the Big 12 presidents are expected to hear from BU interim president David Garland on the school's handling of the rape scandal after being pressed by the rest of the Big 12 for answers.

Garland said BU officials have voluntarily gone to Indianapolis to meet with the NCAA infractions committee about the Pepper Hamilton findings.

Garland reiterated no more details from the Pepper Hamilton investigation will be released despite pleas by former BU president Ken Starr and some of the Baylor rape survivors to do so.

Garland said he doesn't think the Big 12 will take separate, punitive action against Baylor, because the school has been forthcoming with the Big 12 following letters from the league office on May 24 and June 22 demanding more information.

On keeping Briles' staff in place despite the Pepper Hamilton "findings of fact," Garland said he didn't think the assistant coaches were "pernicious" and called them "honorable men."

Rhoades, who according to reports had to come up with an $800,000 buyout in his contract to leave Missouri, said he sees Baylor as an opportunity to serve "one of the world's great Christian universities."

And it was a chance for Rhoades, an Arizona native and alum, to return to Texas, where he spent seven years as senior associate AD at UTEP and five-plus years as AD at UH.

Rhoades anticipates more bumps in the road.

"I have to determine if there have been enough changes or if we have to go further."

"In any job, you uncover more things," Rhoades said. "And if that happens when we get to campus, we're going to handle it the right way. Period.

"These are things we can't tolerate, and we have to grow from these mistakes."

Rhoades vowed to be transparent because "that's the way I've done things everywhere I've been."

For the sake of everyone involved, foremost the female Baylor rape survivors, let's hope that's true and that Rhoades runs to Baylor and spreads the gospel of transparency to anyone who will listen.


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