After leading Baylor football to the national stage during his eight years as the Bears head coach, Art Briles was fired in May 2016 after allegedly covering up dozens of sexual assaults and cases of domestic abuse involving a large number of his players.
In a statement released by the school Friday, Mount Vernon ISD superintendent Jason McCullough heaped praised upon Briles.
“We are pleased to welcome Coach Briles back home to Texas,” McCullough said in the statement. “He brings with him a wealth of not only football experience but also life experience. He is passionate about investing in the lives of young people and helping them to succeed both on the field and in life. After a thorough due diligence process and several earnest conversations, we believe our students will benefit greatly from his skills and experience.”
“High school football is a Texas institution,” Briles said in a statement. “As a coach, it’s my first love. You’ll make no bigger impact in this world than when you shape the lives of young people — one practice, one game, and one life at a time.
“I have learned many lessons during my time as a coach. Some lessons are born out of success and others out of failure. But they all present opportunities to grow, to learn, and to teach, as we strive for excellence both on and off the field.”
Briles, 63, received a two-year contract from Mount Vernon, according to the statement.
Grant Teaff, former Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association and supervisor of the association’s Ethics Committee, “also noted that Briles never incurred a single recruiting infraction during his time at the collegiate level,” per the statement. The statement did not reference Briles’s Baylor tenure or the circumstances that ended it.
The scandal at Baylor resulted in not only Briles’s dismissal, but the removal of Kenneth Starr as school president. A 2017 lawsuit alleged that “at least 31 football players at Baylor University committed at least 52 ‘acts of rape’ over four years.” Briles, who went 65-37 with six bowl appearances as Bears coach, filed a libel lawsuit against four Baylor University officials in December 2016 but dropped the suit weeks later. In March 2017 he insisted that he “did not cover up any sexual violence” while working at Baylor.
Mount Vernon posted a video of Briles being introduced as its new coach on its Facebook page Friday evening. Some of his future players were in attendance for the video conference.
“As soon as I finish up here, I’m in Mount Vernon and we’re not lookin’ back, we’re movin’ forward,” Briles said in the video, eliciting cheers from those in the room. “What I need from you all is what you’re gonna get from me and that’s everything I got. So take care of yourselves. Work hard, eat right, sleep right and plan on being a champion because that’s what we’re gonna be.”
Briles is currently coaching Estra Guelfi Firenze, an American football team based in Florence, Italy after being hired by the club in August.
Welcome to Mt. Vernon Coach Art Briles! Tiger Pride! #ItsAGreatDayToBeATiger!Posted by Mt. Vernon ISD on Friday, May 24, 2019
Briles had a previous run as head coach at Stephenville (Tex.) High School from 1988 to 1999. The details of his Stephenville tenure were profiled by Deadspin in February.
The 2013 Big 12 Coach of the Year was slated to join the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2017 as the assistant head coach for offense but the team and the CFL issued a joint statement stating he wouldn’t be hired. Tiger-Cats CEO Scott Mitchell said a “tsunami of negativity” from American fans and media was a primary reason for the change of heart.
Briles interviewed for the offensive coordinator job at Southern Mississippi in February but did not get the position.