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New filings in Baylor case reveal staff’s ‘disciplinary black hole’

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Anyone who ever supported Art Briles after his termination just keeps looking worse and worse.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Was former Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles a man of integrity wrongfully scapegoated by regents and whose name was smeared in the wake of his termination?

No.

Pathetic comments from the lawyer for Briles after dropping the libel suit against his former employee attempt to paint Briles as the victim.

“All he wanted was his good name," Cannon said.

“A man can only carry so much.”

“Art wants some peace in his life for him and his family...”

Know who else wants peace? The victims. But they don’t get to find it so easily by just walking away with millions of dollars in previous salary and what was likely tens of millions of dollars in settlement money.

Recent filings by Baylor regents in the lawsuit brought against the school by former director of football operations Collin Shillinglaw contain more incendiary allegations:

The regents' response alleges Briles and his coaching staff created a disciplinary "black hole" into "which reports of misconduct such as drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure and academic fraud disappeared."

So the scandal is now extending from covering up sexual assault and other instances of interpersonal violence to allegations of plying recruits with drugs, alcohol, and sex in the “show ‘em a good time” policy to a host of other criminal behavior that reveals the extent to which Baylor players had terrorized Waco.

In regards to the continued discussion of new Texas staffer Casey Horny, whose hire has come under enough fire to force athletic director Mike Perrin and head coach Tom Herman to take the rare step of publicly discussing a member of the support staff, the fillings raise new questions.

Shillinglaw seems to have been something of a fixer in the athletic department, though that characterization could also extend to the assistant coaches and Briles, who all participated in creating that “disciplinary black hole.”

And though Herman thinks that “job descriptions should be taken very loosely, too,” it seems important to point out that Horny’s title at Baylor was “assistant director of football operations/quality control coach.”

Not only does the claim that Horny didn’t know anything about anything continue to seem increasingly difficult to believe, he was technically the assistant to Shillinglaw.

From a practical standpoint, what does that mean? Without deeper knowledge about the organizational structure of the Baylor football program, that’s difficult to say.

However, there are some additional insights from the most recent filings.

Herman claimed on Wednesday that Pepper Hamilton never interviewed Horny and that he was a “non-factor” in that investigation. These are characterizations that stem at least in part from a letter sent to Herman from Baylor, which has not been especially transparent at any point.

In fact, the athletic director who sent it, Mack Rhoades was not at the school during that period.

And it’s also not clear why Pepper Hamilton wouldn’t interview all members of the football operations/personnel staff. Were they all simply cleared at some point in the documents review process after getting “unfettered access to personnel and data”?

As always, this things are difficult to ascertain from the outside, but there is a telling passage about the number of messages collected and the overall investigatory process:

"There could be dozens more, but Pepper Hamilton believed it had compiled enough to support a conclusion that those in charge of the football program, including Shillinglaw, improperly covered up disciplinary problems other than sexual assault," it states.

Basically, it appears that Pepper Hamilton didn’t even try to figure out all the awful things that happened at Baylor — just enough to draw some rather generalized conclusions about the broken football culture in Waco and figure out who absolutely had to be fired and who could stick around to try to salvage the next football season.

Like the assistant coaches who are now being much more heavily implicated in everything that happened.

What we do know now, allegedly, is that Shillinglaw and two other people that Shawn Oakman’s former girlfriend identified as possible assistant coaches didn’t share the police report that she gave them outside of the athletic department.

In cases like these, it’s difficult to ascertain who was actually with Shillinglaw when the ex-girlfriend gave them the report and how Pepper Hamilton set out to identify those people.

In other words, it could have been a football operations staff member.

There was also one instance from the Shillinglaw filings when a football operations staff member was specifically mentioned in an incident:

In reference to a player who was arrested for assault and threatening to kill a non-athlete, a football operations staff member "tried to talk the victim out of pressing criminal charges," the document states.

Who was that staffer? Was it Horny? Did the people in the Texas administration who vetted Horny have enough information to know to ask about an incident like this that was not publicly revealed until after Horny’s hire?

Was it possible that Horny didn’t know that Shillinglaw, his superior, was also used by Briles on multiple occasions to communicate with the Waco attorney who represented the football players who actually emerged from the disciplinary black hole?

Following an alleged gang rape that included five football players resulted in the woman involved to report the incident to her coach, who showed Briles the list of names the woman provided him of the assailants she named.

"Those are some bad dudes,” Briles was said to respond. “Why was she around those guys?”

This is the man whose character Horny publicly defended.

Perhaps, having been a member of the staff at Baylor since Briles arrived in Waco, he just didn’t know about the sliminess of his head coach.

Sure.

Perhaps, having been a member of the Baylor staff since 2008, Horny was simply unaware that the football team contained “no less than” 31 players accused of sexual assault, according to the lawsuit filed last week.

Perhaps, having been a member of the Baylor staff since 2008, Horny was simply unaware that the coaching staff used sex, drugs, and alcohol to lure recruits.

Perhaps, having been a member of the Baylor staff since 2008, Horny was simply unaware that the football program also covered up numerous other instances of malfeasance by players.

Sure.

But the fact that Texas isn’t willing to make Horny available to the media or even release a statement directly from him is awfully reticent of Baylor hiding its assistant coaches from the media all season.

Read that again and think about it.

Even a vetting process that includes all the information now available since Horny’s hire would still be incomplete because Pepper Hamilton’s investigation was purposely incomplete.

So Herman, in his “direct and hard conversations” with Horny, had to assess the truthfulness of a man who was either so blind to the reality in front of him that he couldn’t see it or knew or was in involved in at least some aspects of the pervasive rot that infested Waco.

Either way, the answer isn’t flattering to Casey Horny or the Texas football program.