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.