Art Briles

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Former Baylor head coach Art Briles hired by CFL team

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Art Briles has been set on returning to coaching as soon as he could. With no doors open in the college game or the NFL, Briles is now heading north to take on a role as an offensive coordinator with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Tiger-Cats, coached by another former college coach you may be familiar with in June Jones, highlighted all of the personal highs of Briles’ coaching career at Baylor and Houston, and expectedly avoided any mention of why Briles is no longer coaching at Baylor in the press release to announce the new hire. That is because the school removed him as head coach amid a significant sexual abuse scandal running within the program with players being accused of sexual crimes and members of the football staff allegedly taking action to cover up details of the abuse. Baylor continues to recover from the stain of the scandal today.

Briles will serve as Jones’ offensive coordinator, which is the role Briles was most likely to take in order to get back in the coaching game. The hire has already been receiving negative feedback on Twitter.

Baylor temporarily replaced Briles as head coach with former Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe for the 2016 season, and later went on to hire Temple head coach Matt Rhule to be the new full-time head coach starting in the 2017 season.

As far as football is concerned, though, maybe former Baylor Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III has a new place to consider for a football comeback.

Baylor ordered by judge to release all Pepper Hamilton investigation evidence

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As much as Baylor will try to turn the page with its football program this season with a new head coach and a fresh approach to restoring order within the program, the reality of an ongoing legal fallout continues to drag on off the field and in the courts. On Friday, a federal judge ordered Baylor to hand over all evidence used by Pepper Hamilton in its review of the university’s handling of sexual crimes under the watch of former head coach Art Briles and former university president Ken Starr.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman, overseeing a Title IX lawsuit filed last year by three women who claimed to be victims of sexual abuse by members of the Baylor football program, commanded Baylor to release evidence including any recorded interviews and notes used during the Pepper Hamilton investigation.

What information may be revealed from this evidence that has not been disclosed remains to be seen, but it will be another step toward helping paint a full picture of everything that occurred at Baylor during an ugly sequence of events.

The findings in the Pepper Hamilton investigation led to the dismissal of Briles last year, prior to the start of the 2016 season. Baylor hired former Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe to serve as the coach for one season, and the Bears hired former Temple head coach Matt Rhule this past offseason as the permanent coach.

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.