Art Briles‘ second act as a high school football coach in Texas kicked off amidst controversy nationally even as it was hailed locally. A little over a month into his tenure, Briles is embroiled in controversy yet again.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Briles and his high school, Mount Vernon, were publicly reprimanded for using two football players who “were ruled to have moved into the district for athletic purposes.” Such transfers are normally required to sit out a season of varsity athletic competition; however, a mid-September vote by the District 7-AAA Executive Committee initially ruled that the players were eligible immediately.
Tuesday, though, the same committee, in a unanimous vote, ruled that the players are ineligible. The two players played in Mount Vernon’s first five games, although it’s unclear if the school will be forced to forfeit those games, all of which were wins. The fact that the committee initially ruled the pair eligible could mean that there will be no forfeitures of wins.
In addition to the ineligible players, Briles was also publicly reprimanded for using an assistant coach who wasn’t a full-time employee of the school district.
In late May of this year, the school’s Board of Trustees approved a two-year contract for Briles to serve as the program’s head football coach. Briles spent nearly three decades as a head coach in the state of Texas at both the high school level and, after a three-year stint as an assistant at Texas Tech, the University of Houston (2003-07) and, most infamously, Baylor University (2008-15).
In its release announcing the hiring, the school system noted “that Briles never incurred a single recruiting infraction during his time at the collegiate level, and previous supervisors and other references also provided strong recommendations.” It was further stated that the hiring was made because, “[a]fter a thorough due diligence process and several earnest conversations, we believe our students will benefit greatly from his skills and experience.”
Given Briles’ past, the school’s wordsmithing in announcing the decision was understandable considering the amount of heat and outside public pressure the system endured.
Briles was fired by Baylor in May of 2016 amidst a sexual assault scandal involving his Bears football program. In August of 2017, the disgraced coach was hired by a CFL team; 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 late January of 2017, damning details in one of the handfuls of lawsuits facing Baylor 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 painted a picture of the former Bears head coach 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?”
“Hindsight is a blessing and a curse. I’ve always been about trying to be fair and honest with everyone I came into contact with,” Briles said in July of last year on his unceremonious and controversial ouster from the Bears. “The thing that hurts me as much as anything [was] the culture at Baylor at the time; I don’t think victims, I know they didn’t feel comfortable going to report assaults that took place. I don’t think they were represented and taken care of with the level that needed to be handled with. That’s something that through all of this and as time goes will become more clear.
“Not only me but many of us felt betrayed because we were not privy to the information that was available in a way we wanted to respond. … With the way things are going, with some of the transparency starting to take place, I am confident the truth will come out. It’s not just important for me.”
In August of last year, Briles was named as the head coach of the Guelfi Firenze American Football team in Florence, Italy. That was his first coaching job at any level since his ouster in Waco.
Briles was hired by a CFL team in August of 2017; later that day, and amidst a public outcry that included a sponsor’s condemnation, that hiring was reversed. In February of this year, it was reported that Briles would interview for the offensive coordinator job at Southern Miss; shortly thereafter, and after the university and football program faced significant public backlash, Southern Miss informed Briles he was no longer a candidate for the job, much to the chagrin of that team’s head coach.