Three weeks after the Big 12 Conference spring meetings, the league is ready to release an official statement on Wednesday about the ongoing scandal at Baylor, according to Oklahoma President David Boren, who spoke with reporters after a meeting of the school’s Board of Regents on Tuesday.
“Hopefully they’ll get things straightened out down there,” Boren said, according to the Tulsa World. “The conference is going to make some statements about it, take some actions.
“How do you express approval or disapproval until you get the facts? Other than the media reports. You can’t evaluate all the facts just from media facts. Let’s put it this way. Give us the full facts to make sure we’re getting accurate information. I suspect the media information has been pretty accurate, but we’ll find out for sure.”
The statement from Boren confirms an earlier report from an Oklahoma beat reporter, who also noted that the statement will be the result of a teleconference held by Big 12 presidents, which Boren also confirmed.
At the spring meetings, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn’t offer much on the situation.
"I think it's fair to say when we have a conference member that has had the kind of difficulties that they have had at Baylor that it reflects on all of us," Bowlsby said, according to NBCDFW.com. "I think you're always measured by with whom you associate. So, in that regard, we all feel a little bit of the impact of it."
As Boren noted, the lack of available facts makes it difficult for the conference to take a strong stand on the situation or consider further action against the university. In fact, it’s still not clear what specific events led to the termination of Baylor head football coach Art Briles and two members of the football staff.
So don’t expect much from the Big 12 on Wednesday beyond echoing Boren’s call for transparency. The Baylor Alumni Association and KCEN TV in Waco have also been vocal in calling for a release of the Pepper Hamilton report and as much transparency as possible.
If the facts are damaging enough, CBSSports previously reported on the conference bylaw that could allow the Big 12 to evict Baylor from the league:
The so-called "institutional control" bylaw states, "Each Member accepts the primary responsibility ... for investigating known or alleged violations ..."
Additionally, conference members are charged with taking "prompt and corrective actions where violations have occurred."
However, the first step in determining whether the Big 12 would have justification for such a punitive step is finding out what the actual events were that law firm Pepper Hamilton cited in the Finding of Facts released in late May that coincided with the termination of Briles and the staffers.
The report suggests that Baylor could have committed NCAA violations:
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, to take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, and to take action in response to a report of dating violence.
In the section titled “Barriers to Implementation of Title IX within Baylor’s Football Program,” the first line seems rather damning — “Baylor failed to maintain effective oversight and supervision of the Athletics Department as it related to the effective implementation of Title IX. “
The NCAA may pay particular attention to this allegation:
In certain instances, including reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, athletics and football personnel affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence and dating violence to an appropriate administrator outside of athletics. In those instances, football coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or a parent of a complainant and did not report the misconduct.
Baylor confirmed contact with the NCAA about potential violations, but the governing body doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations, so the details of that potential investigation likely won’t become public for some time unless information somehow leaks out.
At a 2014 Senate hearing, NCAA President Mark Emmert received criticism from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), who claimed the governing body cares more about minor rules violations than criminal conduct. Despite similar criticism and a call to do more from a Title IX attorney, the NCAA maintained that criminal matters are “best handled by local law enforcement.”
As a result, the threshold for the NCAA or the Big 12 to levy a charge of lack of institutional control against Baylor seems high given the NCAA’s disposition on the subject, making such a scenario more unlikely than it otherwise would be had the NCAA acted on those critiques.
But some transparency from Baylor could certainly change that.