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Big 12 confirms Baylor has implemented all recommendations, announces new $2 million fine

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At least in the eyes of its conference, Baylor has taken significant steps in the wake of the sexual assault scandal that rocked the university in general and the football program specifically.

In February of 2017, the Big 12 announced that it will withhold 25 percent of future revenue payments to BU, only releasing the monies “pending the outcome of third-party verification review of required changes to Baylor’s athletics procedures and to institutional governance of its intercollegiate athletics programs, among other matters.” Tuesday, the conference confirmed in a press release that the university “has in all material respects structurally completed and practically implemented the (105 Pepper Hamilton) Recommendations” as required by the league.

The conclusion of the independent verification process was unanimously approved and accepted by the Big 12’s Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Baylor president Linda Livingstone, athletics director Mack Rhoades, and their staffs for their cooperation during this Verification Process,” said Big 12 Board of Directors chairman and West Virginia president Gordon Gee in a statement. “We are in full support of Baylor leadership and have confidence they are moving the university forward from this chapter.”

The league also laid out the financial ramifications for Baylor to date, including a previously-undisclosed $2 million fine for what was described as “reputational damage to the conference and its members.” Additionally, the university will not receive previously-withheld revenue for at least another 48 months — and even then, it will be minus legal fees and the seven-figure fine.

To date, the Big 12 Conference has withheld $14,255,000 from Baylor’s revenue distribution. From the amount currently withheld, Baylor will immediately reimburse the Conference for its legal costs associated with the Verification – currently $1,651,000. The approximately $12.6 million remaining will be invested for the next 48 months. Net earnings realized on the investments will be distributed in equal portions to the 10 members of the Conference on an annual basis and will be used in funding campus-wide and athletics prevention efforts focused on sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking, including, but not limited to, programming addressing healthy relationships, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and bystander awareness. At the end of the 48-month period the Board will determine the amount to be returned to Baylor minus a $2,000,000 fine for reputational damage to the Conference and its members.

Moving forward, however, Baylor will receive its full share of future conference revenue distributions.

In response to the development, BU president Kinda Livingstone issued the following statement:

Dear Baylor Family:

I am pleased to report that the Big 12 Conference has completed its Verification Review of Baylor University’s 105 recommendations in response to past reports of sexual assault and interpersonal violence within our campus community and has confirmed all recommendations as complete and implemented. Additionally, the Big 12 has affirmed Baylor’s compliance with all relevant conference bylaws and the University’s receipt of full league financial distributions moving forward.

This is now the second external verification of our completion of the 105 recommendations, which have already helped the University prevent and respond to reports of sexual assault and interpersonal violence on our campus. We know that this is a very important issue, not only for Baylor, but for each of our Big 12 member institutions and other colleges and universities nationwide.

The comprehensive report of the Big 12’s Oversight Committee is publicly available at Big 12 Board of Directors Conclude Baylor Verification Process, along with the resolution approved Monday by the conference’s presidents and chancellors.

Today’s announcement provides another testament to Baylor’s unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff through our training, education and response efforts within a caring community. It also underscores Baylor’s strength and resilience as we continue on our path to becoming the preeminent Christian research university and competing at the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics.

Despite the progress made with the conference, the university still has some potentially choppy NCAA waters to navigate. Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Baylor had received a Notice of Allegations in which it is being cited for lack of institutional control.

What type of penalties that could potentially arise from the investigation remain unclear.

In June of 2018, it was reported that “if people are expecting some sort of ‘Death Penalty,’ I think they are going to be disappointed.” Nearly two months later, the university bristled at reports that they had been encouraged to self-impose a bowl ban.

In that early-August report, it was reported that the NCAA’s investigation took a “left turn” at some point in the not-too-distant past that wasn’t favorable towards Bears football.  That left turn, coincidentally or not, came not long after several current and former BU officials, including ex-athletic director Ian McCaw, spoke to NCAA investigators.

In a late-June deposition in connection to a lawsuit filed by nearly a dozen women against Baylor, McCaw, now the athletic director at Liberty University, claimed that BU officials had engaged in “an elaborate plan that essentially scapegoated black football players and the football program for being responsible for what was a decades-long, university-wide sexual assault scandal.” The university subsequently fired back at McCaw’s portrayal.

The conclusion of the NCAA’s investigation and any subsequent penalties would serve as the bookend for what’s been a disturbing, years-long series of revelations connected to the tattered Waco institution and it’s beleaguered football program.

In late January of 2017, damning details in one of the handful of the lawsuits facing the university emerged, with that suit alleging that 31 Bears football players had committed 52 acts of rape over a period of four years beginning in 2011.

Not long after, a legal filing connected to the libel lawsuit filed by a former BU football staffer produced emails and text messages that paint a picture of the former head coach, Art Briles, and/or his assistants as unrestrained rogue elements concerned with nothing more than the image of the football program off the field and its performance on it. The details in a damning document dump included allegations that Briles attempted to circumvent BU’s “judicial affairs folks” when it came to one player’s arrest… and on Briles asking, in response to one of his players brandishing a gun on a female, “she reporting [it] to authorities?”… and asking “she a stripper?” when told one of his players expected a little something extra from a female masseuse… and stating in a text “we need to know who [the] supervisor is and get him to alert us first” in response to a player who was arrested on a drug charge because the apartment superintendent called the police.

In reference to a woman who alleged she was gang-raped by several Bears football players, Briles allegedly responded, “those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys?

Briles was fired Memorial Day weekend of 2016.  A coaching pariah in the United States ever since, the disgraced coach was hired by a CFL team in August of last year; a couple of hours later, after the hiring was denounced by fans and sponsors, the organization announced that Briles would no longer be joining the team.

In August of this year, Briles was named as the head coach of the Guelfi Firenze American Football team in Florence.  Florence, Italy.

Eight divisions remain up for grabs heading into last week of regular season, including two from Power Fives

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Not surprisingly, there’s still a helluva lot to play for as we get set to embark on the last week of the 2018 regular season.

After 12 weeks of play, 10 divisions across nine FBS conferences (the 10th, the Big 12, lacks a divisional setup) have already been settled and the winners are set to play in their respective league championship games the week after next:

AAC EAST: UCF
ACC ATLANTIC: Clemson
ACC COASTAL: Pitt
BIG TEN WEST: Northwestern
CONFERENCE USA WEST: UAB
MAC WEST: Northern Illinois
MWC WEST: Fresno State
PAC-12 SOUTH: Utah
SEC EAST: Georgia
SEC WEST: Alabama

That means that eight division titles will be settled as teams take the field throughout a Week 13 that again stretches from Tuesday on into the final Saturday of the regular season. With a couple of exceptions, most of the clinching scenarios are very straightforward and don’t take a mathematical savant to figure out.

AAC WEST: The winner of the Houston-Memphis game will face UCF in the conference championship game.

BIG TEN EAST: The winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game will face Northwestern in the conference championship game.

CONFERENCE USA EAST: The winner will be either Florida International or Middle Tennessee State, with both teams sitting at 6-1 in conference play.  FIU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over MTSU, which means all it has to do is beat Marshall at home next Saturday to face UAB in the league title game.  To earn a berth in the same game, MTSU needs to beat UAB at home AND have FIU lose to Marshall.

MAC EAST: Buffalo (6-1), Miami of Ohio (5-2) and Ohio (5-2) all remain in play for a divisional title.  First, the head-to-head.

  • Buffalo: beat Miami, lost to Ohio
  • Miami: beat Ohio, lost to Buffalo
  • Ohio: beat Buffalo, lost to Miami

Buffalo could make this easy on most everyone involved by beating three-win Bowling Green (two wins in conference play) Friday night, although there are obviously a couple of other scenarios that could play out.  A Buffalo loss AND an Ohio win over Akron AND a Miami loss to Ball State would hand the division to the Bobcats.  A Buffalo loss AND an Ohio loss AND a Miami win would leave the RedHawks as the divisional winner based on the conference’s three-way tiebreaker rules.

MWC MOUNTAIN: The winner of the Utah State-Boise State game will face Fresno State in the conference championship game.

PAC-12 NORTH: The winner of the Washington-Washington State game will face Utah in the conference championship game.

SUN BELT EAST: The winner of the Troy-Appalachian State game will face the West winner in the conference championship game.

SUN BELT WEST: Arkansas State, Louisiana and Louisiana-Monroe, all at 4-3, remain in play for a divisional title.

  • Arkansas State, which lost to Louisiana but beat Louisiana-Monroe, wins the division if it beats Texas State AND Louisiana-Monroe beats Louisiana.
  • Louisiana wins the division if it beat Louisiana-Monroe regardless of what Arkansas State does.
  • Louisiana-Monroe wins the division if it beats Louisiana AND Arkansas State loses to Texas State.

As for the division-less Big 12?  Click HERE for the three different scenarios that could play out in determining that conference’s two championship game participants.

Utah win, Arizona State loss gives Utes first-ever Pac-12 South title

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Despite a couple of injuries to significant contributors that could’ve been crippling, Utah instead traversed those obstacles and made some program history in Week 12.

At 5-3, Utah came into Saturday with a half-game lead on a pair of 4-3 Pac-12 South teams in Arizona and Arizona State.  Utah, in its last league game of the regular season, helped its own cause in the early-afternoon television window as they easily took care of Colorado in a 30-7 romp in snowy Boulder.  In the final viewing window of the weekend, Oregon jumped out to a 28-13 halftime lead en route to routing Arizona State XX-XX in Eugene.

The combination of Utah’s win and Arizona State’s loss — Arizona needed Colorado to knock off Utah to remain in contention — means that the Utes have claimed the football program’s first-ever Pac-12 South championship.  Utah will face the winner of the Apple Cup rivalry game between Washington and Washington State in the conference championship game Nov. 30 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

The Utes will be seeking their first conference championship of any kind since winning the second of its back-to-back Mountain West titles in 2004.

Utah also becomes the last of the six members of the South to win a division title.  UCLA won the first two in 2011 and 2012; Arizona State won in 2013; Arizona won in 2014; USC won in 2015 and then again in 2017; and Colorado won in 2016.

No. 8 Washington State destroys Arizona for 10th win, sets up Apple Cup for the Pac-12 North

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There’s Pac-12 After Dark and there’s Pac-12 gone dark. Given what No. 8 Washington State did to Arizona on Saturday night, safe to say the latter applied to one of the last games of a snoozy Saturday.

The Cougars scored a touchdown eight times in the first half as they routed the visiting Wildcats 69-28 in chilly conditions on the Palouse, setting up an Apple Cup that will once again be for all the marbles next week and perhaps clinching a trip to New York for the team’s star quarterback.

That would be Gardner Minshew, who should be no worse than third on every Heisman ballot in the country in the next few weeks. In an effortless performance, he threw for 473 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns (five in the first half). Perhaps the mustachioed maestro of the Air Raid’s best accomplishment was just how well he got everybody involved against a defense disinterested in defending, with some 11 different players catching a pass for the Cougs. Wideout Calvin Jackson caught two scores, Tay Martin had 124 yards and a score through the air, tailback Max Borghi was once again stellar out of the backfield with six catches for 65 yards and James Williams recorded 79 total yards.

It was such a dominating effort for Wazzu, that they even accomplished something rarely seen by a Mike Leach-coached team in winning the time of possession battle.

His opposite number in Kevin Sumlin did not enjoy his return to Pullman, where he first got his start in college coaching. The Wildcats were playing behind the eight-ball all night long and added to their misery time after time. They fumbled at the one-yard line for example and even allowed a muffed kick return to be recovered in the end zone for a touchdown the other way. It was one of those ‘it rains, it pours’ nights for the visitors from the desert.

That said, quarterback Khalil Tate did dazzle at times in throwing for 294 yards and four touchdowns (one INT) while rushing for another 25. JJ Taylor chipped in with another 69 on the ground and wideout Shawn Poindexter continued a streak of his last six catches all resulting in scores. If there is one silver lining for UA, it’s that the game doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things as the team can still become bowl eligible next weekend against rival Arizona State and wash away any memories of this trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Wazzu, meanwhile, can turn their attention to what is shaping up to be yet another epic Apple Cup with plenty on the line. Facing off against rival Washington, the winner of that game will clinch the Pac-12 North and a trip to the league title game. The Cougars still have an outside shot of making into the playoff if they can get a little help and run the table along the way.

Those are thoughts for another day though, as Cougars fans no doubt will revel in that thrashing of Arizona just a bit longer.

Big 12 title game contenders down to Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

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And then there were three.

Entering Week 12, four teams were still alive for the two spots in the Big 12 championship game — Iowa State (5-2), Oklahoma (6-1), Texas (5-2) and West Virginia (6-1).  Oklahoma held serve after holding off stubborn Kansas to move to 7-1; West Virginia was upset by Oklahoma State in Stillwater to fall to 6-2; and Texas took care of business in whipping Iowa State, with the Longhorns improving to 6-2 and the Cyclones dropping to 5-3.

Add it all up, and the Cyclones are the only one of the four to be eliminated this weekend even as they could still end up in a three-way tie for second in the conference (point differential among the tied teams would knock them out).

Thus, in Week 13, Oklahoma and West Virginia square off in Morgantown while Texas draws perpetual-conference-doormat-turned-pesky-out Kansas on the road in Lawrence.

The scenarios for the league championship game are relatively straightforward:

  • Texas beats Kansas, would face the winner of the Oklahoma-West Virginia game in the Big 12 title game.
  • Texas loses to Kansas, Oklahoma beats West Virginia: UT-OU in the Big 12 title game.
  • Texas loses to Kansas, West Virginia beats Oklahoma: OU-WVU in the Big 12 title game

Regardless of which teams are involved, the Big 12 championship game will be played Saturday, Dec. 1, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.