WACO, Texas (KXAN) — The Baylor University Board of Regents is apologizing to Baylor Nation for a “fundamental failure” by the university in how they handled allegations regarding “sexual violence” involving multiple football players.
On Thursday, the university announced numerous leadership changes and various corrective actions following an external investigation of Baylor’s institutional response to Title IX and related compliance issues. The biggest fallout from the investigation is the firing of Head Football Coach Art Briles. The university says Briles has been suspended but the regents expect to fire him. Athletic Director Ian McCraw was sanctioned and placed on probation.
The changes aren’t contained to the Athletics Department, effective May 31, Baylor University President Ken Starr will transition into a new role as Chancellor where he’ll continue to teach at Baylor University Law School. Dr. David Garland has been named interim president. Greg Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost, will continue to serve as second in command. The overall business operations of the university, including athletics, will be handled primarily by Dr. Reagan Ramsower, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Last summer, the university hired Pepper Hamilton, LLP to conduct the investigation. The firm had access to Baylor faculty, staff, administration and students who have been impacted by interpersonal violence. The investigation determined the following key findings:
- The University’s student conduct processes were wholly inadequate to consistently provide a prompt and equitable response under Title IX; Baylor failed to consistently support complainants through the provision of interim measures; and in some cases, the University failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potentially hostile environment, prevent its recurrence or address its effects.
- Actions by University administrators directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.
- In addition to broader University failings, Pepper found specific failings within both the football program and Athletics department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player and to a report of dating violence.
- There are significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct.
- Over the course of their review, Pepper investigated the University’s response to reports of a sexual assault involving multiple football players. The football program and Athletics department leadership failed to take appropriate action in response to these reports.
The findings also said the choices made by the football staff “posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University.”
“We are deeply sorry for the harm that survivors have endured,” said Ron Murff, chair-elect of the Baylor Board of Regents in a press release.
During a Thursday afternoon teleconference, the Regents addressed why the Starr will not be fired. They said Starr would have no university operational responsibilities and would still teach given his tenure.
At this point, the Regents have not started their search for a new university president, they say their main focus is to “make sure actions taken today reflect [the University] values and priorities.”
Regents in the teleconference also spoke to victims saying, “We’re still very sorry…it’s awful what [victims] had to endure, our response was not proper. We’re sorry we didn’t respond as best we could.”
The university plans on reviewing all cases of interpersonal violence over the past three academic years to determine if any of those cases will need further investigation.
The overall operations of the Athletics department will now be integrated into the mainstream operations of the university. The school plans to “create and maintain a culture of high moral standards among student-athletes and leadership.”
Locals React to Fallout
Wacoans agree it was a tough decision, but the right one.
“In the long run I think it was good for Baylor to do this because they showed we are committed to instilling good values in our sports,” Ryan Jaimez, a football fan said.
But some community members worry what will happen now that two big university leaders lost their roles.
“Ken Starr has elevated Baylor University on every level, he’s elevated academics, he’s brought countless jobs to Waco,” said Besty Fergson, owner of The Mix Cafe. “I’m proud of Baylor for taking a tough call though, I’m sorry for those involved who were hurt.”