Art Briles

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Art Briles dropped from lawsuit against Baylor

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Former Baylor head coach Art Briles has been removed from a federal lawsuit filed against the university, just as his lawyers requested back in July. That doesn’t mean he is out in the clear just yet, however.

Briles and former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw were named as defendants in a federal lawsuit filed against Baylor University by a woman claiming the school ignored her claims of being sexually abused by a former Baylor football player (Tevin Elliott). Attorneys representing Briles and McCaw requested each be removed from the lawsuit as a defendant by claiming the allegations against them were based on hearsay and federal and state laws prohibit them from being sued as individuals in the case against the university. An attorney representing the plaintiff agreed to drop Briles and McCaw from this federal lawsuit but made it clear new lawsuits would be filed later specifically against Briles and McCaw.

”Coach Art Briles is very happy he has been dismissed as a defendant in this case. Plaintiffs may very well allege future claims against him and we will take those on if and when they are filed,” Briles’ attorney, Kenneth Tekell, said.

The lawsuit was filed in March, claiming Baylor was aware of other transgressions associated with Elliott. Because of this, the woman claims Baylor failed to protect her safety from a sexual predator. Elliott was convicted of raping the woman and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Briles has been busy in recent weeks attempting to reform his shattered image, admitting to making mistakes (after previously admitting to nothing) and outlining how he will handle things differently should he be fortunate to coach again in the future. He was most recently seen attending a Baylor football game this past weekend at Rice, where former Baylor football player Shawn Oakman inexplicably visited the team inside the locker room (to which current head coach Jim Grobe admitting to having no idea who Oakman was).

Art Briles: I made mistakes… The captain goes down with the ship

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Former Baylor head coach Art Briles is coming out of the shadows for the first time since being fired by Baylor earlier this year, essentially beginning his redemption tour as he hopes to return to coaching as soon as possible. In an interview with Tom Rinaldi of ESPN, Briles said he had made mistakes during his tenure at Baylor, which was marred by accusations the Baylor football program violated Title IX procedures to keep players eligible to play football.

“I made mistakes. I did wrong, but I’m not doing this trying to make myself feel better for apologizing,” Briles told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “I understand I made some mistakes. There was some bad things that went on under my watch. I was the captain of this ship. The captain of the ship goes down with it.”

Baylor hired the Pepper Hamilton law firm to conduct a thorough and independent investigation of the Baylor football program and athletics department following up on concerns about the way alleged Title IX violations had been handled. The report came back with scathing reviews, suggesting Baylor assistant coaches met with alleged victims in person, thus violating the Title IX response procedure sin place at the university. The culture of the Baylor football program was accused of placing an emphasis on winning above all else, which was a tough blow to the Briels legacy in Waco. Despite turning Baylor into a Big 12 contender, Briles was shown the door by the university. Ken Starr was also reassigned within the university from his role as president.

“So, I understand that I made some mistakes, and for that I’m sorry. But I’m not trying to plead for people’s sympathy. I’m just stating that, ‘Hey, I made some mistakes. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m gonna learn. I’m gonna do better.”

As quotes from Briles’ interview with ESPN began to hit the newswire, word of an investigation into the legitimacy of the Pepper Hamilton report from KWTX in Waco has suggested the report fell short of doing the job it was intended to do and took a few reaches on its findings. The report from KWTX concludes the Pepper Hamilton report came to the conclusion the Baylor board had already reached in response to the allegations against the program. Some sources connected to the report suggest there was no reason to fire Briles in the first place.

There was no smoking gun,” one source told KWTX.

ESPN will air the full Briles interview during Saturday’s airing of College GameDay.

Ken Starr a PR disaster for Baylor in ESPN interview

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If you thought the leadership at Baylor could not look any worse than they have over the past week, think again. On the day he announced he was resigning from his position as chancellor a week after being demoted as university president, Ken Starr sat down for an interview with Joe Schad of ESPN and served up some even more tone-deaf statements regarding the situation at Baylor than you could imagine.

While admitting Baylor’s response to various sexual assault allegations did fall short of what was expected of them, Starr claimed none of the incidents happened on Baylor’s campus, as if that makes the situation any more tolerable.

“We’re an alcohol-free campus,” Starr said in his interview with ESPN. “It’s not happening on campus, to the best of my knowledge. They are off-campus parties. Those are venues where those bad things have happened.”

OK, fine. But those bad things happened involving representatives of your university and football program, and your coaches reportedly interfered with the investigation process, thus protecting them from more extreme punishment and failing to give your victims, who are students at your university, a fair chance at justice in any form possible. Just because an incident happens off your campus, does not mean you are excused from failing to uphold the investigation process and response accordingly. Your students may not live on your campus, but they are a part of your community and it is your job as a university to assure all students they can feel safe and secure while attending your university. Starr’s ridiculous comments about “those bad things” happening at off-campus parties does nobody any good in this conversation.

Making things worse, Starr went out of his way to sing the praises of now former head coach Art Briles, who was placed on an indefinite suspension by the university wiht the intent to terminate his contract. His replacement, Jim Grobe, has already been hired this week amid a flurry of changes at the university. Praising a man fired for overseeing a program riddled with such negative attention connected to “bad things” is a bad public relations move.

“Coach Briles is a player’s coach, but he was also a very powerful father figure,” Starr said. “[It’s] not one strike and you’re out. That’s not coach Briles and that’s not what Baylor is.”

Can we pause for a brief moment and come to an agreement that all strikes are not considered equal? Stealing ketchup from a Burger King o a can of soda from the university book store is one thing. Sexually abusing another student at your university is something else. Not every crime or incident may be deserving of a one strike and you’re done response, but what was happening at Baylor warranted that kind of action. Even if it happened off your campus.

It is somewhat amazing Starr was allowed to sit down for this kind of interview with ESPN. On the one hand, getting Starr in front of a camera could help shed some light on the situation from a different perspective, and perhaps that was the intended hope for Starr or Baylor. On the other, there should have been a PR representative on hand to interrupt and drag Starr out of the room the moment he started praising Briles and saying some of the things he said on camera.

Reports: Ken Starr resigning, two Baylor football staffers fired

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The fallout from the bombshell at Baylor continues to leave a deep impact a week later. According to Joe Schad of ESPN, former president  Ken Starr says he will resign from his role as chancellor. Meanwhile, Dan Wolken of USA Today reported last night two more staffers from Baylor’s football program have been let go.

Starr was demoted from his role as university president last week by the board of regents following the release of an investigative report on Baylor’s Title IX violations within the football and program and athletics department. Starr was given a chancellor’s role with the intent of being a voice in front of donors. That will no longer be the case, per Schad’s report. Starr will remain a law professor at the university, however, which sounds just as confusing as anything you may read or hear today.

The two football staffers let go by the university are reportedly Colin Shillinglaw and Tom Hill. Shillinglaw was the athletics director for football operations. Hill was a longtime staffer that was apparently there to fill any need necessary. Shillinglaw reportedly worked closely to former head coach Art Briles. Briles was put on an indefinite suspension with the intent to have his contract terminated by the university.

Earlier this week Baylor announced the hiring of Jim Grobe as active head coach. The news of the former Wake Forest head coach joining the Bears during this troubling time preceded the announcement that athletics director Ian McCaw was going to resign.

Four-star OL JP Urquidez says he will not enroll at Baylor

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Continuing an unfortunate trend for the Baylor football program over the course of the last week, Class of 2016 offensive lineman JP Urquidez announced he will not be enrolling at Baylor tomorrow morning as originally planned. Urquidez made the announcement via Twitter.

Rivals rated Urquidez as a four-star prospect out of Copperas Cove, Texas. The recruiting service ranked him the ninth-best offensive tackle in the country in the Class of 2016 and the 24th top player overall from the state of Texas. Urquidez sent a message of support to the recently indefinitely suspended (with the intent to terminate) Art Briles once the news became official.

Urquidez joins fellow Class of 2016 recruits of Baylor Patrick Hudson (another four-star offensive lineman) and four-star running back Kameron Martin in deciding not to enroll in the first summer session at Baylor. Others could soon join them as reports suggest four-star wide receiver Devin Duvernay already wants to move on to another program as well.

Baylor’s Class of 2016 ranked 17th in the nation according to Rivals, but in the wake of this latest scandal news the Bears are already seeing key ingredients of that class looking elsewhere at the final hour.There is not a whole lot that can be done by Baylor other than allowing those players a release from their

National Letter of Intent and offering them best wishes on their way out.