The continued efforts of Art Briles and his supporters over the past two years to rewrite history cannot go unchallenged. Just as when he was coach, he again attempts to skirt responsibility for actions of the football program that he led, the players he recruited and coached, the coaches he managed and the loose discipline he championed.
Briles’ selective memory overlooks the June 24, 2016, announcement of the termination of his employment relationship with Baylor, which states: “Both parties acknowledge that there were serious shortcomings in the response to reports of sexual violence by some student-athletes, including deficiencies in University processes and the delegation of disciplinary responsibilities within the football program.”
Additionally, in a Sept. 7, 2016 interview with ESPN, Briles states: “I made mistakes. I did wrong. But I’m not doing this, you know, trying to make myself, you know, feel better for apologizing. I understand I made some mistakes. There were some bad things that happened under my watch. I was the captain of the ship. The captain of the ship goes down with it. You know so I understand that I’ve made some mistakes. And for that, I’m sorry. You know, but I’m not trying to plead for people’s sympathy. I’m just stating that ‘Hey, I made some mistakes. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m gonna learn, and I’m gonna get better.”
Much of Briles’ response relies on hearsay and narratives that Baylor has previously debunked as “factually baseless and borderline ludicrous.” The underlying facts of what happened at Baylor are quite simple: Two high-profile cases of sexual assault involving football players led the Baylor Board of Regents to launch an independent investigation of not only the football program but of the entire campus in terms of how reports of sexual violence were handled during a three-year period. The results of this independent investigation by two of the nation’s top Title IX experts were disturbing, with findings of gang rapes and sexual and domestic assaults by football players in addition to other discoveries throughout the University.
Instead of turning a blind-eye to these serious findings within the football program, as Briles and his supporters would suggest, Baylor’s Board of Regents did not shirk their responsibilities and stepped up to take significant actions. They reaffirmed the University’s commitment to the safety and security of its students. Sweeping administrative and athletics leadership changes were made, in addition to the implementation of 105 recommendations for improvement.
Since May 2016, Baylor has taken unprecedented actions and implemented significant infrastructure, training, education, and policies and procedures under new leadership in response to the issue of past and alleged interpersonal violence involving our campus community. Baylor’s unwavering commitment is to our students – to continue to educate, train and respond appropriately and work continuously to ensure a safe, supportive and healthy campus for all students.