Baylor’s conference is laying down what could prove to be a very significant financial hammer on the university. Or a means to change. One of the two.
The Big 12 announced Wednesday that it withhold 25 percent of future revenue payments to BU, only releasing the monies “pending the outcome of third-party verification review of required changes to Baylor’s athletics procedures and to institutional governance of its intercollegiate athletics programs, among other matters.” According to the conference’s release, its board of directors voted unanimously on the measure.
Baylor itself didn’t have a vote in the matter.
“The Board is unified in establishing a process to verify that proper institutional controls are in place and sustainable,” said Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chairman David Boren in a statement. “Effective immediately, the Conference is withholding 25 percent of Baylor’s share of any future revenue distribution until the proper execution of controls is independently verified. By taking these actions the Board desires to ensure that the changes that were promised are actually made and that systems are in place to avoid future problems. The proportional withholding of revenue distribution payments will be in effect until the Board has determined that Baylor is in compliance with Conference bylaws and regulations as well as all components of Title IX.”
The action is in direct response to the sexual assault scandal that enveloped the school last year and resulted in the head football coach, athletic director and president losing their jobs.
On its surface, the measure could cost the university’s athletic department upwards of $8 million annually if the revenue that’s being held doesn’t ultimately find its way to the school. The reality, though, is this is appears to merely be a way for the conference to push one of its members toward enacting changes that are wholly necessary.
In that vein, the university’s acting president, David E. Garland, released a statement shortly after the Big 12’s announcement, highlighting the actions the school has taken in the wake of the scandal.
Upon learning the scope and scale of the troubling incidents that occurred within our campus community through an independent investigation, Baylor University took unprecedented corrective actions that led to leadership changes within the University administration and athletic department and 105 recommendations to strengthen the safety and security of our students. No other university in the country has responded as aggressively and decisively as Baylor regarding incidents of sexual assaults on its campus.
“Under the University’s new leadership, Baylor has demonstrated a firm commitment to athletics compliance and integrity, increased awareness and prevention of sexual assault, implementation of Title IX best practices and providing comprehensive support services for any student in need of them. Baylor already had planned to hire an outside auditor to audit the implementation of our enhanced practices, and we welcome the Big 12 Conference’s request of an independent review. While the withholding of conference distributions is an unexpected financial event, we do not deem these actions to materially impact the overall financial position of the University. We pledge our full cooperation, and we will work with the Big 12 Conference to conduct the audit as expeditiously as possible.
“This third-party review at the request of the Big 12 Conference will provide an opportunity for us to demonstrate our progress to date and our ongoing commitment in establishing Baylor as a leading institution in athletics compliance and governance and for preventing and addressing sexual assaults on college campuses.