Baylor football keeping assistants after scathing report
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Baylor University has kept its assistant coaching staff intact after firing head coach Art Briles despite a scathing report that concluded multiple football ''coaches'' acted inappropriately in handling sexual assault allegations against their players.
While Baylor regents demoted former President and Chancellor Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw resigned, Briles has remained the only coach to be dismissed since the report accused the football program of acting as if it was ''above the rules.''
Alex Zalkin, an attorney for Jasmin Hernandez, a former Baylor student who has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the school was indifferent to her reports of being sexually assaulted by a football player in 2012, questioned why Baylor hasn't dismissed more coaches. While The Associated Press generally doesn't identify sexual assault victims, Hernandez has spoken publicly to draw attention to the case.
''I don't understand how you can continue to employ people who have been found to have engaged in this type of behavior,'' Zalkin said. ''I think the public has the right to know who specifically was involved.''
In a statement Wednesday night, Baylor officials said ''additional members of the administration and athletics program have also been disciplined,'' but those individuals and their punishments would not be disclosed.
''The university will continue to review and work with athletic department administration regarding additional actions as appropriate,'' the school said.
Interim coach Jim Grobe, the former Wake Forest coach who came out of retirement to take over at Baylor for next season, said last week that he would retain all of Briles' position coaches . That includes Briles' son, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, and his son-in-law, passing game coordinator and running backs coach Jeff Lebby.
Grobe said last week he has the authority to make changes, but didn't expect that anything from a recently-released investigation summary that would affect the remaining coaches.
''Going forward, I couldn't predict, but I think right now things are pretty stable,'' Grobe said.
But the 13-page "Finding of Fact" prepared for Baylor by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton includes five references to ''coaches'' or football staff engaging in behavior that stifled school and criminal investigations into serious allegations, including:
- Meeting directly with a complainant or their parent and not reporting the alleged misconduct.
- Abdicating their duties under federal protections for student welfare, health and safety by not reporting incidents to the university or suspending players without explanation and helping them transfer.
- Seeking to maintain ''internal control'' over discipline of players and diverting cases from the student conduct or criminal proceedings.
Those instances helped reinforce '' an overall perception that football was above the rules, and that there was no culture of accountability for misconduct,'' the summary stated. The document doesn't identify any coaches by name or position - including Art Briles.
Pepper Hamilton said its investigation dated to the 2012-2013 academic year. According to the Baylor football website, eight of Baylor's nine position coaches have been on staff since 2011 or longer.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for a former Baylor student who said she was hit and choked by a former Baylor player said the woman exchanged text messages with Lebby about the incidents in 2014, and nothing was done other than to tell the player to stay away from her. The woman's lawyer, Ricky Patel, said she is considering a lawsuit against Baylor.
Baylor officials declined to address the allegations against Lebby, and instead issued a statement that the school remains ''committed to learning from the experiences of our students and former students'' as it works to improve how the school responds to complaints.
Pepper Hamilton's summary does not detail any of the incidents uncovered in the investigation, and Baylor has faced mounting pressure to release more information.
Last week, the Baylor Line Foundation, the university's main alumni group, demanded Baylor release a full report, saying the public deserved ''an unvarnished, complete accounting of the facts about how these events were handled.''
But Baylor interim President David Garland this week repeated the school's position that it will not release details in order to protect victim privacy. Baylor officials have said there is no formal, full report from Pepper Hamilton and that regents were briefed on the findings orally, behind closed doors, before the summary was released.