It was bound to happen eventually — some high school or college or professional team would give disgraced former Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles another opportunity by deciding that winning matters more than integrity and student safety.
After three years spent in exile, the hire of Briles was announced in a Friday evening news dump by Mount Vernon High School, his first job in the United States after the Hamilton Tiger-Cats reversed an announced decision to add Briles to the staff and he spent a 4-6 season in Italy with Guelfi Firenze.
The decision by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason McCullough featured the typical elision of why Briles was exiled in the first place.
“We are pleased to welcome Coach Briles back home to Texas,” he said. “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.”
Yeah, but is he going to play his necessary role in ensuring that any players accused of sexual assault or misconduct are held responsible by the football program, school, and law enforcement? Will the most vulnerable students at Mount Vernon “benefit greatly from his skills and experience?
Briles, for his part, also failed to publicly address the key concerns, just as he’s consistently failed at every turn to take accountability for his actions or express remorse about everything that happened. He remains completely unrepentant — apologizing for his mistakes should be the baseline, the absolute baseline, for getting a second chance anywhere in public life.
“I began my coaching career in the Friday night lights of Texas high school football, and I’m looking forward to returning to my roots,” Briles said. “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.”
Do any of those lessons he’s learned have to do with his heinous previous mistakes?
Even former Baylor head coach Grant Teaff weighed in.
“I have known Art Briles for over 30 years as an extremely successful high school coach and through his years as a college coach,” he said. “I have observed him as a man, husband, father, grandfather, and as a coach, always forthright and stellar.”
In an even more ridiculous statement, Teaff noted that “Briles never incurred a single recruiting infraction during his time at the collegiate level.”
Never mind that Kendal Briles, the former offensive coordinator for his father in Waco, was accused of using sex to entice a high school recruit to visit.
“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles allegedly told a Dallas-area prospect.
Never mind that it didn’t stop there, allegedly — Baylor was accused of a “‘show ‘em a good time policy‘ that ‘used sex to sell’ the football program to recruits. That included escorting underage recruits to strip clubs and arranging women to have sex with prospective players, the suit alleges.”
Never mind that “the investigation by lawyers identified at least 52 ‘acts of rape’ by 31 football players from 2011 to 2014. This included five gang rapes, at least two of which were committed by 10 or more players at one time, according to the lawsuit.”
Briles claimed he didn’t know about any of this and Teaff is attempting to rehabilitate his friend’s image with no regard for the accusations made against him.
Which, by the way, also date back to the days when Briles was the head coach at Stephenville, another small town in this football-crazy state.
According to a Deadspin report earlier this year, a Stephenville student was sexually assaulted by a football player under Briles. She filed a police report, but the player was never charged.
And here’s how Briles treated her:
A star student, Dorothy was working on a student council project when she had to introduce herself to Briles to ask him a question. “When he heard my name,” she recalls, “He said, ‘So you’re the one all this fuss is about.’”
Briles also claims he doesn’t remember that incident — not exactly forthright — but the father of the student, identified as Dorothy in the Deadspin report, actually confronted Briles about it.
“Art didn’t handle it right,” Dorothy’s father told Deadspin. “When I found out, I went straight to his house and told him what happened. He was taken aback. He couldn’t believe it. He said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ He said it was a ‘he-said/she-said’ at this point. There was no indictment. He didn’t know what to do.”
He didn’t know what to do. Not exactly stellar.
That’s the man that Teaff is now defending, and a man that Mount Vernon is now entrusting to do the right thing if one of his players commits sexual assault.
But there’s also another element here — the victims who suffered because of players under Briles at Baylor, the same ones who were treated so unfairly by Baylor and local law enforcement, are now re-living that trauma.
“Once again, winning matters more than our safety,” one Baylor rape survivor texted Jenny Creech of the Houston Chronicle. “How can they keep doing this to us?”
Here’s another rape survivor, one of a “number of brave women” who contacted Creech on Friday.
“I feel sick,” she wrote. “He is going to be in charge of children. How are they letting this happen?”
Because winning matters more than their safety. Shame on Mount Vernon. Shame on Teaff. And most of all, shame on Briles, who should never have another coaching job in his life so he’ll have plenty of time to think about all that continued trauma that his players visited on students who thought that Stephenville and Baylor were safe places for them.
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