WACO, TEXAS — The Baylor University Football program has been in the news of late not for its outstanding play on the field, but rather for multiple sexual assault allegations of several football players. The school announced Thursday, reported by ESPN, that head football coach Art Briles has been suspended with intent to terminate, and Kenneth Starr will no longer serve as the school president but will remain with the University.
This decision came after the University received the findings from an investigation that was conducted privately by the Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton. The school launched the investigation in the fall of 2015.
Richard Willis, chairman of the Baylor board of regents, said of the findings in a statement, “We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students.”
“The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.”
Former president Ken Starr will remain a professor at the law school and will transition into the chancellor position. He will no longer have any operational duties and his function will focus on fundraising and religious liberty.
Briles still had eight years remaining on his 10-year contract extension that he signed in November of 2013.
According to the statement from Baylor, the report by Pepper Hamilton “reflect a fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA).
Two Baylor players that were accused of sexual assault were recruited by Briles after they had previously been dismissed from other programs for off-field issues. In August of 2015, former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu was sentenced to 180 days in jail after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a women’s soccer player.
In April of 2016, former Bears star defensive end Shawn Oakman was arrested on a charge of sexual assault. According to an arrest warrant obtained by ESPN, a Baylor graduate student told Waco police that Oakman “forcibly removed” her clothes, forced her onto his bed and then sexually assaulted her on April 3. Oakman told police that he had consensual sex with the woman.
With Briles at the helm, Baylor has won 10 or more games in four of the last five seasons. In 2013, the football team won the outright Big 12 conference championship which was the school’s first outright conference championship since 1980.
Athletic Director Ian McCaw retained his title but was sanctioned and placed on probation. He will have the tough task of finding a replacement for Briles with just three months until their first game against Northwestern State.
Art Briles finished his coaching career at Baylor with a record of 65 – 37 and three bowl wins.