By Ken Reed

Following a long sexual assault scandal, and pressured by ESPN’s Outside the Lines and other media outlets, Baylor has fired head football coach Art Briles and demoted school president Kenneth Starr. (For some reason, Starr is being allowed to stay on as chancellor and law professor. How rich is that?)

It appears Baylor learned absolutely nothing from its 2003 basketball scandal.

In 2003, basketball player Carlton Dotson shot and killed teammate Patrick Dennehy. Dave Bliss, the Baylor basketball coach at the time, then tried to cover up illegal payments to players by portraying Dennehy as a drug dealer.

It was a classic case of win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) thinking and policies. Baylor, long a laughingstock in major college football and men’s basketball, hired Bliss to win and win quickly. Bliss did that but at the cost of his and the conservative Christian school’s soul.

A few years later, Baylor hired football coach Art Briles to turn a bottom-feeder football program into a winner. Win Briles did but he gambled on players with questionable character and shaky pasts to do it. Some of his recruits had been booted off the team and out of school by other universities. The result has been a slew of sexual assault charges, arrests and convictions.

Briles was being paid $6 million to run an out-of-control football factory at the Baptist university. His team’s win-loss success led to the building of a new football stadium at Baylor with high-revenue luxury suites and club seats.

That stadium was being built while some deplorable things were taking place on on campus and in the athletic department. One of the key findings from an independent report on the Baylor football scandal was the following:

“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.”

That’s just sick.

Did Briles and Starr, and other coaches and administrators, ever stop to think that the young female victims are somebody’s daughters and sisters? Or did wins on the football field supersede violent sexual activity by the players? With today’s news about Briles, Starr and others that question appears to have been answered.

In a bit of irony here, Starr was the lead investigator into former president Bill Clinton’s sexual improprieties.

Yes, there have been other ugly scandals in big-time college sports. But it is shocking that Baylor is the home of this ugly scandal a little more than a decade after one of college basketball’s worst scandals rocked the Waco campus.

Hypocrisy runs amok in Waco, Texas. Here’s Baylor University’s mission statement:

The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.

Given the systemic, institutional breakdown in this case (and the basketball scandal before it), it’s clear Baylor is failing at its mission.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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