In a statement Friday, Baylor University said that in 2013, several senior members of its athletics department were informed of a female student-athlete’s allegations of a gang rape committed by five Bears football players, and none passed along that information to the proper authorities, as required by federal law. Those athletics-department members included Art Briles, then the head coach of the football team, as well as athletic director Ian McCaw.
According to the school, the student-athlete provided her team’s coach with the names of the five football players she said sexually assaulted her in 2012. That coach gave the information to Briles, McCaw and the sports administrator for his women’s team, all of whom who failed to act upon it.
“In this case, the University can find no information that would support a conclusion that the student-athlete’s head coach — or any other Athletics Department personnel — reported the incident to Judicial Affairs in 2013 or at any time since,” the statement read. Baylor has been rocked in recent years by a number of sexual-assault accusations, court cases and lawsuits, and it fired Briles in May, with McCaw and university president Kenneth Starr eventually resigning.
“The internal system of discipline operated by the coach [Briles] was not in line with the University’s mission and obligations,” Ron Murff, board of regents chairman, told the Dallas Morning News. “To Art’s credit, he took responsibility for this in discussions with the Board of Regents and in a national media interview.”
“As usual everything Baylor is saying is false,” an attorney for Briles, Ernest Cannon, said to the newspaper, adding, “They’re up to the same underhanded and dirty tricks.”
Baylor reported that, in 2015, McCaw initially denied having had knowledge of the student-athlete’s allegations of gang rape, but then he subsequently acknowledged that her coach had informed him in 2013. Baylor claimed that McCaw said he thought the victim did not wish to report the rape.
Earlier in November, Briles’s son Kendal, the Bears’ offensive coordinator, and other members of the team’s staff issued a statement in which they claimed that the student-athlete’s coach had reported her rape to Judicial Affairs. They quoted that coach as saying that Art Briles had “handled the matter honorably.”
“While a victim may choose where or how to report a sexual assault, once informed of the report, athletics personnel may not exercise discretion to not report,” Baylor said in its statement. Briles has apologized for his role in Baylor’s widely criticized handling of several sexual-assault allegations but has not acknowledged any specific wrongdoing.
Many fans of the Bears continue to support Briles. During Baylor’s most recent home game, a loss last week to TCU, shirts were sold outside of the team’s stadium with the phrase #CAB, as in “Coach Art Briles,” on them.
Billionaire Drayton McLane, a major supporter of the team whose name adorns its stadium, called Thursday for Baylor’s board of regents to exhibit greater transparency about the circumstances surrounding Briles’s ouster, which may have led to the school’s statement Friday. “The Baylor family and the public needs to know the truth,” McLane said (via the Associated Press). “Art and the other people involved in this need for the facts to come out.”