Even with a change at the top, the Baylor football program seemingly can’t get out of its own way.
At a press conference introducing him as the interim replacement for Art Briles, the deposed Bears head football coach let go in the wake of the sexual assault scandal in the program, Jim Grobe stridently proclaimed that his “main goal right now is to make sure that they do all the good things off the field.” The former Wake Forest head coach added that they, the players, “know there’s absolute no tolerance policy right now, zero tolerance for misbehavior.”
Earlier this week, that zero-tolerance policy was on full display as a pair of junior college transfers, offensive lineman B.J. Autry and defensive tackle Jeremy Faulk, left both the football team and university for unspecified reasons. According to a new Outside the Lines report, Faulk was questioned by Baylor coaches on June 1 about an incident at his former FBS school, Florida Atlantic, as well as an alleged sexual assault on the BU campus in April.
It’s the handling of the alleged incident at FAU that, again, raises questions as to whether the university, including the new head coach, truly grasps what’s going on and, more importantly, how to move forward.
Faulk’s departure has angered Jeff Sims, a former assistant at Florida Atlantic and the former head coach at Garden City. Sims, who coached Faulk at both schools, says Baylor is trying to rid itself of anyone who has had an allegation made against him, true or not. And he’s disturbed by something he said new Baylor interim coach Jim Grobe told him when he called to ask why Faulk’s status on the team was in jeopardy over the alleged April incident.
“Grobe says to me, ‘Listen, if he just leaves, he can go on, and we won’t stop him from playing anywhere, and this investigation will stop.'” Flabbergasted at the notion a sexual assault investigation might disappear if an accused player were to leave the team, Sims said he pressed Grobe, but Grobe struggled to be more specific before implying that Baylor administrators had made him remove the player from the team.
“To me, that’s the whole reason they got in trouble — either Jeremy’s innocent, and they should go through the process, and he should get his scholarship back and play. Or he’s guilty, and this girl should get some justice,” Sims said.
In an emailed response to OTL, a Baylor spokesperson stated that “Coach Grobe has a different recollection of the conversation,” a comment that’s symbolic of what appears to be an overriding theme in this disturbing mess in Waco.
In the OTL report, Faulk claimed he had consensual sex with a woman in April, while the female has a different story as to what transpired; the alleged victim spoke to OTL and claimed that Faulk and another player, Autry, “forced me to do things that I didn’t want to do against my own consent.”
That alleged victim reported the incident to police May 5 but told them she did not want to pursue charges. The woman also didn’t want an investigation to be conducted by the school into her allegations, an investigation she was told was required when contacted by a BU Title IX official. “She said she is in counseling but is worried about retaliation and wants to move on,” OTL wrote.
“No one’s given me a reason why I’ve been released,” Faulk said of his departure from the university. “If I just leave, it will look like I’m guilty, and I didn’t do anything. …
“[Grobe] was, like, due to all the stuff that’s been going on, and Title IX and all that, the school is releasing me. He didn’t say the football team. He said the school is releasing me … I asked him why, and he just told me it’s out of their hands.”
As for the FAU incident that angered Faulk’s former coach? It surfaced after BU, as part of the aftermath of the scandal, began retroactively doing background checks on all athletes who had transferred into its sports programs.
Faulk said that on June 1 he was called back into the coaches’ office, and they presented him with a report they found from Florida Atlantic University, where Faulk played in 2013 and 2014. He said that while he was there, he and a friend got in trouble after they burst open the door to a teammate’s room and teased him and his girlfriend — who were both naked in bed — and threatened to pull off the sheets. Campus police were called, but no criminal charges were filed. Outside the Lines obtained the police report Thursday; the description of the “suspicious incident” on Nov. 3, 2013, matches Faulk’s account.
Sims said Grobe told him during their phone call Saturday that Baylor had to let Faulk go because of the two incidents: “They said two strikes, and he was out.”