Baylor fires coach Art Briles, removes Ken Starr due to sex assault scandal
Baylor University has dismissed head football coach Art Briles in the wake of a growing sex assault scandal involving the program.
Baylor also announced Ken Starr will no longer act as president and be moved to a ceremonial role as chancellor, effective May 31. The school's athletic director, Ian McCaw, will be sanctioned and put on probation but get to keep his job.
The school said, in a release, that an independent review of the sex assault scandal by Pepper Hamilton found the "football program and Athletics department leadership failed to take appropriate action in response to these reports."
The summary of the report, posted on Baylor's website, further details a culture where football and athletics staff covered up reports of sexual assault involving football players.
“In those instances, football coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or a parent of a complainant and did not report the misconduct. As a result, no action was taken,” the report states.
The report also says the actions of the football staff created a perception football was "above the rules."
The report also found that Baylor was too slow to enact federally-required student conduct processes, and that administrators failed to identify and eliminate a "potential hostile environment" for victims.
Baylor football players were reportedly informed of the decision to fire Briles via text messages from the coach. Some of the players took to Twitter and voiced their thoughts.
“I don't think I can play Baylor football without having my headcoach back leading the charge coach Briles did everything by the books!!!” said Baylor LB Taylor Young on his Twitter account.
Briles was the coach at Baylor for the last eight seasons and won two Big XII titles, the biggest success Baylor football had seen in decades.
But a series of news reports over the past year made it apparent there was a growing issue involving players recruited by Briles and sexual assault on the campus.
Two former Baylor players, Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu, have been convicted of rape. Elliott is serving a 20-year prison sentence after being convicted in January 2014. In August 2015, Ukwuachu was convicted of raping a former Baylor women’s soccer player.
Additional reports last week from ESPN indicated there were other players investigated for sex assault charges by police.
"We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students," said Richard Willis, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. "The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students."
Briles stayed away from reporters on Thursday, but his daughter ripped Baylor for firing her dad. In a Facebook post she called the school's treatment of her dad "disgusting" and blamed a media "witch hunt" for his firing.
Yahoo Sports reported former SMU head coach and current Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett was the likely interim head coach at Baylor, but nothing has been made official by the school.