Baylor announced Thursday that it had taken the first steps to fire head football coach Art Briles, amid intensifying reports that actions by both the football program and university administrators had helped cover up sexual-assault accusations against football players.
On Thursday, the university released the findings of an independent investigation conducted by the law firm Pepper Hamilton, which the school had hired in the fall of 2015 to investigate its handling of accusations of sexual assault.
The findings, which can be read in full on Baylor’s website, paint a damning picture of culture that failed to hold the football team accountable, discouraged victims from filing complaints, and, on numerous occasions, neglected to remove victims from potentially dangerous situations with assailants.
“We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students,” said Richard Willis, the chair of Baylor’s Board of Regents.
He added: “The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.”
Pepper Hamilton reported several key findings, which we’ve listed below:
- The University’s student conduct processes were wholly inadequate to consistently provide a prompt and equitable response under Title IX; Baylor failed to consistently support complainants through the provision of interim measures; and in some cases, the University failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its recurrence or address its effects.
- Actions by University administrators directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.
- In addition to broader University failings, Pepper found specific failings within both the football program and Athletics department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player and to a report of dating violence.
- There are significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct.
- Over the course of their review, Pepper investigated the University’s response to reports of a sexual assault involving multiple football players. The football program and Athletics department leadership failed to take appropriate action in response to these reports.
During Briles’ time as the Baylor head coach, several members of the football team were accused, convicted, and charged with sexual-assault related offenses. Two former Baylor players, Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu, have both been convicted of rape, while several others have been accused.
ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported in April that the school failed to report these cases until nearly two years after the complaints were filed.
Schools are required by federal law to investigate reports of sexual assault and an Outside the Lines report earlier this spring said the school waited almost two years to look at a claim against two former football players.
Baylor also announced several changes to its leadership structure. Ken Starr, the university president, has been moved to a new role as chancellor, while the school’s athletic director, Ian McCaw, has been sanctioned and placed on probation.
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