In a whirlwind Thursday that began the process of reshaping the entire administration in Waco, the Baylor Bears fired head coach Art Briles after an independent review by the law firm Pepper Hamilton found that Briles and his football staff committed widespread and systematic misconduct, all while being protected by the athletic department and administration.
While previous reports, mostly from ESPN's Outside the Lines, touched upon or hinted at Briles and his staff ignoring accusations of sexual assault or other violence by football players, the Findings of Fact compiled by Pepper Hamilton released by Baylor has some truly shocking revelations.
The misconduct includes choosing not to report to sexual violence and dating violence to the proper entities outside of athletics. In fact, the report indicates that football coaches or staff members even went so far as to meet with a complainant and/or the parent of a complainant.
In an effort to remove all outside accountability, Briles and his staff subverted student conduct and criminal processes through inappropriate involvement in those processes (emphasis added):
Football staff conducted their own untrained internal inquiries, outside of policy, which improperly discredited complainants and denied them the right to a fair, impartial and informed investigation, interim measures or processes promised under University policy. In some cases, internal steps gave the illusion of responsiveness to complainants but failed to provide a meaningful institutional response under Title IX.
The result was an undocumented, informal, and subjective disciplinary process that undercut effective Title IX implementation and was greatly lacking in consistency. The results are disturbing and unconscionable, especially to the extent to which students were put a risk:
The football program's separate system of internal discipline reinforces the perception that rules applicable to other students are not applicable to football players, improperly insulates football players from appropriate disciplinary consequences, and puts students, the program, and the institution at risk of future misconduct. It is also inconsistent with institutional reporting obligations.
Unsurprisingly, the misconduct seeped into the transfer process that caused Baylor to accept convicted rapist Sam Ukwuachu and alleged rapist Shawn Oakman:
Baylor did not consistently conduct due diligence with respect to potential transfers. In at least one identified instance, the process reflected a failure to conduct appropriate due diligence and assessment of risk regarding past criminal or student conduct and an affirmative decision not to seek additional information about an athlete's prior criminal or student conduct records. Baylor did not adhere to a consistent protocol regarding transfers and importantly, Baylor did not consistently follow previously implemented processes regarding criminal background checks, request for records of any prior college disciplinary actions, and character reference screening forms.
So Briles was basically lying last year about doing due diligence in researching the background of Ukwuachu, who had a history of mental instability at Boise State, in addition to an incidence of physical violence against his former girlfriend.
And so the folksy facade that endeared Briles to so many has come crashing down, made all the more poignant by the fact that he put so many women at Baylor at risk even though he himself has young daughters. The culture around many football programs enables a great deal of bad behavior on the part of players, but is rarely as systematic and corrupt as the portrait of Baylor football that emerged on Thursday.
Not only that, but the athletic department and administration as a whole failed to address concerns repeatedly raised by other departments -- Briles and the football staff were hardly alone in being able to conduct such reprehensible behavior of such a long period of time. The entire administration allowed it to continue.
The breakdowns spread across nearly every institution in Waco, from the university to the police to the media. And fans were also all too willing to make the football program out as the victims, even as so many actual victims went unsupported or actively repressed and denied justice by Baylor.
So here's hoping that the university sincerely undertakes the massive effort of removing all those responsible -- which must include athletic director Ian McCaw -- and effecting the needed change. It's going to be a long process and a difficult one, but it has to happen.