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Report: Grambling State's Hire of Art Briles Still Faces Challenges

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.

When news surfaced that Grambling State's football program hired former Baylor head coach Art Briles as its new offensive coordinator, it sent shockwaves around the college football community, and led to public frustration from legendary GSU player and coach Doug Williams.

However, according to the Monroe News-Star, there are several hurdles remaining before Briles can be approved for the position. As of Friday, GSU had not notified the University of Louisiana System that it planned to hire Briles. 

When the university does so, Briles will need a majority vote on the 16-member board to nail down his hiring to the staff of first-year GSU football coach Hue Jackson. The board will not convene again until April 28, according to the Star.

Within the last five years, the board has not denied a football coach's contract or terms sheet. However, with the controversy surrounding Briles, it is expected that the board will examine the hire closely. 

Johnson: Grambling State’s Message Is Loud and Clear With Its Hiring of Art Briles

Per the Star, the UL System has magnified its stance on ensuring employees to reveal accusations of sexual misconduct in a prompt manner. Depending on how the board observes Briles’s past will determine if he will be able to coach the Tigers’ offense next season. 

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Briles can be approved by the UL System in one of two ways. Either option, however, will still require a vote from the board. One option includes the program agreeing to a contract and presenting Briles’s deal for approval to the System’s Athletics Committee and then a vote from the board.

“The individual contract will be on our athletics committee agenda and the board will vote individually on that contract,” said Cami Geisman, vice president of external affairs and chief of staff for the UL System.

The second option would call for GSU to hire Briles in an “at-will’ capacity. If that happens, the board would “vote on the process used to hire the person and not the individual contract.”

In 2016, Briles was fired from Baylor 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 being fired from Baylor

According to the 2017 lawsuit filed by a former Baylor student, there were more than 50 acts of rape committed by 31 different players at Briles's former program between 2011 and 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.”

Meanwhile, Briles could begin coaching at GSU as it is not uncommon for university employees to start working before the UL grants approval of a hire. The Tigers will begin spring practices on March 4. 

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