The Pepper Hamilton report on Baylor University’s “fundamental failure to implement Title IX” found damning evidence against senior leadership at the school. The report found that Baylor University failed at every level to take seriously the problem of sexual assault and lacked consistent or meaningful engagement in the University’s Title IX functions. These problems were particularly acute in the athletics department, which was given free reign by Baylor’s top administrators to handle student misconduct as they saw fit. This meant athletics and football staff were able to cover up reports of sexual violence. When athletics and football did respond to such reports it was internally, away from the student misconduct processes (Title IX) which applied to the rest of the student body. This meant these cases were not adequately investigated, did not result in any real discipline against alleged perpetrators, and discouraged alleged victims from reporting sexual assaults. When investigations did occur they were botched and when victims did come forward they were intimidated into not reporting the assault to the University. This created a permissive environment for sexual assault within the football program and contributed to an unsafe campus environment for the rest of the student body.
Amid this scandal this senior leadership lost their jobs. This included head football coach Art Briles. Briles maintained he had never done anything wrong. He claimed he was(is) a scapegoat for the University. That is until his public apology tour in which he acknowledged some bad things had happened during his tenure and said he had to “get better”. Yet still didn’t really apologize. Which was a theme. It was recently reported that Briles admitted he set up a reporting system in which he would have been the last to know about any reports of sexual assault. But Briles probably rightfully believed that despite the report, despite the allegations, despite his alleged role in permitting his football players to get away sexual assault.
Until now. New details have begun to emerge on the findings of the investigation which paint Art Briles and Baylor University in an even worse light, if that’s possible. It has now been reported that this scandal “involved 17 women who reported sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 players, including four alleged gang rapes, since 2011”. Including once instance where Art Briles was informed of a gang rape and failed to report it. Another report from Showtime’s 60 Minute Sports has revealed further details regarding “Baylor’s failures to handle reports of sexual assault, especially (although not exclusively) those involving football players.”
The report details and provides more insight into some issues which have previously been covered. For example, how Baylor offered its former Title IX coordinator a $1.5 million settlement following her resignation as part of a non-disclosure agreement. She resigned due to what she viewed as “active subterfuge” by school administrators against her efforts to comply to Title IX regulations as well as retaliation against her for those efforts. As it turns out, according to 60 Minutes Sports this act of retaliation was commonplace against employees who attempted to notify the University about sexual assaults. Also, when reports of the sexual assaults were given to police those reports subsequently became unavailable to the Title IX coordinator and were ignored by the police.
The picture which continues to emerge is one of a systematic attempt to cover up sexual assaults by Baylor University, one of the primary beneficiaries being the Baylor University football program, even as other athletic programs were harmed. Baylor is obviously not the first nor will it be the last university to skirt the law in order to benefit its athletics. Baylor is also not the only university to be recently caught in a sex scandal. But Baylor has been perhaps the most blatant in its continuing efforts to obscure the truth and its culpability in these sexual assaults. At one point it was even considered if Art Briles could be rehired. Because football is important.
60 Minutes Sports spoke with Baylor regent Dr. Neal Jeffrey, who also played quarterback for Baylor in the 1970s. Jeffrey was asked how much of the University’s response to the report as well as subsequent actions have been driven by attempts to protect the football program.
“Art, in one sense, had us where we’ve never been before, and we were winning and things were awesome,” Jeffrey said. “And I think our main problem was it’s—it’s hard to mess up awesome.”