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Baylor statement: Art Briles, others had responsibility to report gang rape, didn’t

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Just when you thought the image of Baylor and its football program couldn’t get any worse, it does.

Late last month, BU regents told the Wall Street Journal that 17 women reported sexual or domestic assaults in alleged incidents involving 19 football players since 2011. “There was a cultural issue there that was putting winning football games above everything else, including our values,” one of the regents, J. Cary Gray, was quoted in the story as describing the program under then-head coach Art Briles.

Late last week, during a meeting with the Dallas Morning News, another regent, David Harper, made the explosive allegation that Briles was made aware in 2013 of a 2012 gang rape involving football players and a female student-athlete and didn’t report it to the proper authorities either at the university or in law enforcement.  In response to those allegations, current Bears assistant coaches and football staffers released a tweeted statement of support for Briles shortly thereafter in which they, in part, claimed that the alleged victim’s head sports coach (HSC) said that he thought “Coach Briles handled the matter honorably and with the attention it deserved.” The statement further claimed that the HSC “informed Art Briles that he reported the incident to (then) athletic director Ian McCaw and Judicial Affairs.”

Briles’ former employer would beg to differ.

In a press release sent out Friday night titled “Statement to Dallas Morning News regarding sexual assault not reported to Judicial Affairs,” BU claimed that the university’s investigation showed that “neither the head coach, the Athletic Director, the sports administrator or the football coach disclosed the reported sexual assault to Baylor’s Judicial Affairs or to anyone else outside of the Athletics Department.” According to the school’s statement, all of those who knew of the alleged sexual assault, including Briles, had “reporting responsibilities” and should have reported the incident to one of three places: the university’s Title IX coordinator (then the VP of Human Resources), Judicial Affairs, or the Baylor University Police Department.

“In this case,” a portion of the statement Friday night read, “the University can find no information that would support a conclusion that the student-athlete’s head coach – or any other Athletics Department personnel – reported the incident to Judicial Affairs in 2013 or at any time since.”

Below is the school’s statement, in its entirety:

In response to multiple questions about a former Baylor coach who claims to have talked to Judicial Affairs in 2013 about an allegation that one of his student-athletes had been sexually assaulted at a party by several football players, Baylor responded as follows:

To place the news accounts in context, here are the facts about the underlying report of sexual assault: In April 2013, a female student-athlete reported to her head coach that she had been sexually assaulted by five Baylor football players approximately one year earlier. The student-athlete provided her head coach with the names of the involved football players. The head coach immediately reported the assault, including the names of the reported players, to the then-Athletic Director, to the head football coach, and to the sports administrator for the female student-athlete’s team. According to Baylor’s investigation, neither the head coach, the Athletic Director, the sports administrator or the football coach disclosed the reported sexual assault to Baylor’s Judicial Affairs or to anyone else outside of the Athletics Department.

Under Title IX and Clery, a University must have campus policies and procedures for the reporting and investigation of reported sexual assaults. This is in addition to any criminal law enforcement action a victim may seek. Many university employees have reporting responsibilities and if they learn of a reported sexual assault, they must share the report with the designated official on campus. In 2013, Athletic Department coaches and staff should have reported the incident to one of three places: the University’s Title IX Coordinator (then the VP of Human Resources), Judicial Affairs, or the Baylor University Police Department, all of whom would have been in a position to assist the victim and take responsive action. While a victim may choose where or how to report a sexual assault, once informed of the report, athletics personnel may not exercise discretion to not report.

In this case, the University can find no information that would support a conclusion that the student-athlete’s head coach – or any other Athletics Department personnel – reported the incident to Judicial Affairs in 2013 or at any time since. Baylor University reviewed all of the evidence and found:

  • Over the course of the past year, the student-athlete’s head coach, his sports administrator, the head football coach, and the Athletic Director have each independently confirmed to the University – in some instances, on multiple occasions – that they did not report this sexual assault allegation to Judicial Affairs in 2013.

  • An independent review of Judicial Affairs records and interviews with employees confirm that the alleged sexual assault was not reported to Judicial Affairs in 2013 by any member of the Athletics Department or any other individual.

  • In early 2015, Baylor’s Title IX Office first learned of the sexual assault allegation in connection with three other reports of sexual assault involving multiple football players. At the time, the Athletic Director was asked if he had any prior knowledge of an alleged gang rape within the football program. He denied having any knowledge of the alleged incident. Later in 2015, for the first time, the Athletic Director acknowledged that the student-athlete’s head coach told him about this report in 2013. The Athletic Director explained that he did not take any action, including reporting the alleged sexual assault to Judicial Affairs, because he thought the victim did not want to report the incident.

  • In a voluntary statement on June 2, 2016 and a sworn affidavit on June 24, 2016, the victim’s head coach again detailed his actions after learning of the gang rape allegation. His account was consistent with the account he provided to Baylor in the spring of 2016. In neither of the statements, nor in his interview, did the head coach state that he reported the alleged assault to Judicial Affairs. To the contrary, he expressed his great disappointment and frustration that he could not do more to help the student-athlete despite bringing the report to the attention of his sports administrator, the head football coach, and the Athletic Director.

Akron transfer offensive lineman Brandon Council commits to Auburn over Baylor, Missouri

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The future home for a former Akron football player has officially come into focus.

In mid-February, Brandon Council took the first step in leaving the Akron football team by placing his name into the NCAA transfer database. A month later, prior to the NCAA banning in-person recruiting because of the coronavirus pandemic, the offensive lineman took an official visit to Baylor. He had been scheduled to do the same with Auburn. Those plans, though, were placed on indefinite hold.

Over the weekend, Council announced that he had whittled his transfer to-do list down to three. Not surprisingly, Baylor and Auburn made the cut. Additionally, Missouri is part of the transfer trio.

LSU and USC were also reportedly in play at one point as well.

Thursday night, Council officially whittled his transfer to-do list down to one.  Auburn.

Council will be eligible to play immediately in 2020 as a graduate transfer. It’s believed that this coming season would be Council’s final season of eligibility, although the player could get a sixth season from the NCAA.

Coming out of high school in North Carolina, Council was a two-star member of Akron’s 2016 recruiting class.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Council started nine games at left guard in 2017. The 6-4, 325-pound lineman then started the first three games of the 2018 season at right tackle before going down with an injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the year. That injury plus the redshirt for his first season could potentially trigger a sixth season.

Coming off that injury, Council started all 12 games in 2019. Council played every position along the offensive line this past season.

Jim Harbaugh extends scholarship offer to second-grade cancer survivor

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Courtesy of the current Michigan football head coach, how about a little pick-me-up story amidst all of the coronavirus pandemic news?

Thomas Fidone is a four-star 2021 prospect out of Iowa. On the 247Sports.com composite, he’s rated as the No. 2 tight end in the country for next year’s class. Suffice to say, the 6-5, 220-pound prospect is a hot commodity on the recruiting trail.

Fidone holds offers from, among others, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame and Nebraska. And, yes, Michigan. Which is where the pick-me-up comes into play.

Because of the NCAA’s ban on in-person recruiting, Fidone this week was on a video chat with Jim Harbaugh and U-M tight ends coach Sherrone Moore. During the chat, Fidone’s second-grade cousin, Sebastiano Fidone, joined in.

According to a Facebook posting from Sebastiano’s mother, her son was asked by the coaches to flex. Sebastiano complied. And, at that point, Harbaugh offered the young man, who battled leukemia for four years until finishing up chemotherapy in February of last year, a Michigan football scholarship.

Sebastiano received his first college offer today. 😆

We were able to join cousin Thomas Fidone on a video chat with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and tight end coach Sherrone Moore. During the video chat, they asked Yanno to flex. He did, and Coach Harbaugh immediately offered him a scholarship. Now that he offered, he can’t send him a Michigan football t-shirt because of NCAA gifting rules 😆. He told Yanno a scholarship is better than a t-shirt in the long run anyway. He said his previous record for youngest scholarship offer was a 7th grader, so Yanno being in 2nd grade smashes that.

Yanno and Thomas got to do a little virtual workout together and it was an awesome perk of Thomas being heavily recruited, we are so thankful for Thomas and the coaches for setting it up today.

For those curious, the younger Fideone would be a member of the Class of 2030.

And, great work, Coach Harbaugh. And good luck, young man, as you continue what is hopefully a long, prosperous and fruitful life.

Second ex-Miami player in a month transfers to Colorado State

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Quietly, Colorado State football is becoming a quasi, Rocky Mountain version of The U.

Last month, defensive lineman Scott Patchan announced that he would be transferring to Colorado State after leaving the Miami football program. Exactly one month later, one of Patchan’s former teammates, Brian Polendey, announced that he too is headed to CSU.

“Excited for this next chapter,” the tight end wrote.

As Polenday would be coming into the Colorado State football program as a graduate transfer, he would be eligible to play for the Rams in 2020. Not only that, but he has another season of eligibility he can use in 2021 as well.

Coming out of high school in Texas, Polenday was a three-star 2017 signee. He was rated as the No. 21 tight end in the country.

The past three seasons, Polenday played in a combined 14 games. He saw action in six as a true freshman, then had his sophomore season end after two games because of injury. His six appearances in 2019 were highlighted in his first career start, the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech.  A shutout loss, if you needed a reminder.

The 6-6, 240-pound Polenday was mainly used as a blocking specialist during his time in Miami. He finished his time with the Hurricanes with one catch for 14 yards. That lone reception came during his truncated 2018 campaign.

Colorado State will be under new leadership this fall as Steve Addazio was hired as the program’s new head football coach. Addazio replaces Mike Bobo, who was fired earlier that month.

Report: ‘Strong conviction’ among people in the sport there will be college football this season

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It appears a pair of highly-criticized college football coaches have some company. Anonymous company, but company nonetheless.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was roundly criticized when he argued that college coaches should get back to the business of football May 1, with players following shortly thereafter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took numerous shots when he very boldly claimed there’s no doubt the college football season would start on time.

OSU was forced to publicly address the kerfuffle kicked up by Gundy. An unapologetic Swinney, meanwhile, defended his faith-based opinion.

Thursday, however, an ESPN NFL insider offered additional optimism. In a tweet, Adam Schefter wrote that “there is a ‘strong conviction’ there will be college football this season.”

Below is the full text of Schefter’s tweet:

Speaking to people in and around college football this week, there is “strong conviction” there will be college football this season. Uncertainty about when – multiple scenarios being debated – but they sound certain there still will be college football this season.

As is the case will of these types of opinions, though, there’s no timeline attached to it.  Nor should there be, at least at this point.

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain when the 2020 college football season will start. Or if it will even start, despite Schefter’s positive missive. There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving. January has been floated as a possibility as well. So has the spring of next year.

Playing games with no fans has also been tossed around. More than one prominent athletic director, though, has tossed cold water on such a plan. Fan-less games would very likely be an absolute, utter Hail Mary of a last resort to salvage some semblance of a season.

We’ve said myriad times before and we’ll continue to say it: The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion. Head coaches, though, will be far down on the list of people who will determine when a season starts. Or even if it does.