A report by the Wall Street Journal on Friday shed a little more light on the handling of sexual assault allegations at Baylor that led to dismissal of football coach Art Briles and the resignation of chancellor Kenneth Starr in May.
The departures came in the wake of an outside investigation from the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, which reported its finding to Baylor’s Board of Regents, the overseers the university. In interviews with the Journal, regents offered new details on the probe’s findings.
Among the disclosures: 17 women reported incidents of sexual or domestic assault involving 19 football players — including four alleged gang rapes — since 2011. According to the board members, there was at least one instance in which Briles “knew about an alleged incident and didn’t alert police, the school’s judicial-affairs staff or the Title IX office in charge of coordinating the school’s response to sexual violence.” Dallas lawyer J. Cary Gray, a member of the board, told the Journal, “We did not have a caring community when it came to these women who reported that they were assaulted. And that is not OK.”
Gray detailed to the Journal that on May 24, two days before Briles’s firing, the coach teared up upon being asked in a meeting with the board what he would have done differently. According to Gray, several members of the board cried as well.
“He couldn’t speak he was so upset, and all of us were. Art said, ‘I delegated down, and I know I shouldn’t have. And I had a system where I was the last to know, and I should have been the first to know.’”
In response to Gray’s claim, Briles’s attorney, Ernest Cannon, told the Journal that in the meeting, Briles quoted scripture and expressed regret over the situation, but never admitted to any wrongdoing.
“As he heard information, what did he do with it? From a moral standpoint, what is the right thing to do?” Ron Murff, a Dallas businessman and the chairman of the of the board of regents, wondered of Briles, per the Journal.
There have been three indictments made against Baylor football players for sexual assault and crimes against women in the past four years, the most recent being ex-defensive end Shawn Oakman on charges of second-degree felony sexual assault in September. Defensive ends Tevin Elliott in 2014 and Sam Ukwuachu in 2015, were each convicted of sexual assault.
In September, Briles told ESPN, “There were some bad things that happened under my watch. And for that, I’m sorry. . . . I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m going to learn. I’m going to get better.” When visiting the Houston Texans’ training camp in August, Briles said, “I’ve been in it 38 years, and I’ve done, you know, lived the right way for 60 years of my life. I’ve never done anything illegal, immoral, unethical.”