Editor’s note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Former Grambling State player and legendary football coach Doug Williams was not thrilled about the program's decision to hire former Baylor coach Art Briles as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator on Thursday.
Briles was fired from Baylor in 2016 after an extensive scandal that revealed Briles and administrators at the university had ignored dozens of sexual assault allegations. He has not coached a college football program since he was fired from Baylor.
Williams—who won three Southwestern Athletic Conference championships as a player under legendary coach Eddie Robinson—coached at Grambling on two different occasions from 1998 to 2003 and 2011–2013. Williams told Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post that he could not support the program with its hire of Briles.
“I’m not a fan at all,” Williams told the Post. “I’m very, very disappointed in Grambling, I really am.…I talked to the A.D. a couple times. They knew where I stood, but they did it and if that’s what they want to do, that’s fine. I’m out.
I don’t know why Grambling State had to go be the one to hire him... If I support them [Grambling], I condone it.”
However, Grambling state football coach Hue Jackson pushed forward on the hire of Briles. Jackson and Briles's working relationship dates back to 2016, when Jackson—the former head coach of the Browns—brought Briles in during Cleveland's training camp and the regular season as a guest coach just months after Briles was fired by Baylor following an investigation into his and the school’s sexual assault allegations.
According to the 2017 lawsuit filed by a former student, there were more than 50 acts of rape committed by 31 different players at Baylor from 2011 to 2014, including five gang rapes.
The law firm hired by Baylor to investigate the allegations revealed that the football program and the athletic department failed to “identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player.”
After Briles was fired and following the findings from the investigation, Baylor president Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw departed and two Baylor players—Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu—were found guilty of sexual assault.
Despite the response and criticism from Williams and others linked to the university, GSU athletic director Trayveon Scott told ESPN that he believes Briles “just wants to coach and lead men.”
“We're not talking about a perfect situation or devaluing things done in the past and how it has affected people,” Scott told ESPN. “... We felt it [was appropriate] to give him a chance to really redeem himself after understanding where the facts lie.”
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