Baylor University demoted school President Ken Starr and fired football coach Art Briles on Thursday, issuing a scathing report over the university’s handling of sexual assault complaints against players.
The board of regents at the nation’s largest Baptist university said in a statement that Starr, a former prosecutor who investigated the Monica Lewinsky scandal, will vacate the presidency on May 31 and stay on as school chancellor. It said it suspended Briles “with intent to terminate” and placed athletic director Ian McCaw on probation.
Starr asked a law firm last year to review Baylor’s handling of sexual assault cases following allegations that the school mishandled several cases in which football players were accused of attacking women.
Among the firm’s findings was that football coaches and athletics administrators at the school in the central Texas city of Waco had run their own improper investigations into rape claims and that in some cases, they chose not to report such allegations to an administrator outside of athletics.
By running their own “untrained” investigations and meeting directly with a complainant, football staff “improperly discredited” complainants claims and “denied them a right to a fair, impartial and informed investigation.”
“The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University,” the report states.
The report’s “findings of facts” did not name specific coaches or athletics staff.
The university’s statement said the review revealed “a fundamental failure.”
The report also found that’s Baylor was too slow to enact federally-required student conduct processes, and that administrators failed to identify and eliminate a “potential hostile environment” for victims.
Baylor has faced increasing criticism in recent months for its handling of reports of rape and other violent incidents involving football players and students. One victim has sued the university, saying it was deliberately indifferent to her allegations against a former player who was eventually convicted of sexually assaulting her.
Starr ordered an investigation last year but has been mostly silent amid the criticism. The former prosecutor took over as the university’s president in 2010, about a decade after he investigated former President Clinton’s sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewisnky.
The football team enjoyed unprecedented success under Briles’ tenure, including two Big 12 championships in the last three years. That success brought a financial windfall, and in 2014, Baylor opened a new, $250-million on-campus football stadium. But Briles’ program has also been criticized for recruiting or accepting transfer players without regard to the harm they might cause fellow students.
Starr rode the waves of the program’s success, and often ran on the football field with Baylor students in pregame ceremonies. But as investigations began into the school’s handling of sexual assault allegations against players, Starr provided only brief comments, even as criticism of the school mounted.
In a February statement issued by university, Starr said “our hearts break for those whose lives are impacted by execrable acts of sexual violence.” And at a prayer breakfast last month, Starr told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “I am in favor of transparency. Stand up, take your medicine if you made a mistake.”
Starr initiated the law firm’s review last year, after former football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a female soccer player.
Ukwuachu, who was convicted last year, transferred to Baylor after he was dismissed from Boise State. His former girlfriend testified during his rape trial in Texas that he had struck and choked her when he attended Boise State.
Ukwuachu’s former coach, Chris Petersen, now the coach at Washington, said he “thoroughly apprised” Briles about the circumstances of Ukuwachu’s dismissal. Briles disputed that account, saying he talked with Petersen and there was no mention of the incident.
The school is also facing a federal lawsuit from a former student claiming the school was “deliberately indifferent” to rape allegations levied at a former football player Tevin Elliott, who was convicted in 2014 of sexually assaulting the woman.
The uproar following Ukwuachu’s conviction caused Baylor to initiate the review by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, and to announce a $5 million effort to improve efforts on how it responds to sexual assault, including adding another investigator and more staff.
But the Ukwuachu case was just the start of months of revelations of football players being involved in violent incidents with little or no repercussions. At least seven other woman have publicly come forward to say the school ignored their sexual assault allegations.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
“Foot Ball Players” are doing this even at the High School level. My Japanese female foreign exchange student was one of the only 2 girls invited to a Party with the football players.
My Japanese, very naïve, exchange student thought it was a great honor. My husband said she could not go, she was not happy. As it turned-out, this was one of those Foot Ball Player Rape Parties, we were told by a Hispanic girl who befriended our Japanese girl.
Big TED says
Remember the case a few years ago at Stubenville H.S. in Ohio involving H.S. Football players.
Who does Innosent Bill involved
Continuation : involvement come in to play. You know the snake is there somewhere!
Ken Starr is asked to step down because of a sex scandal? Instant karma.
Connie Condra says
Just because Mr. Starr was derelict in his duties at Baylor does not mean that Slick Willy is not a serial rapist.
George logan says
Unfortunately athletes today are celebrated for the sexual prowess. Colleges and pros only care about the money and if a few victims are in the way in the words of Hillary Clinton ” what difference does it make.”
Mark Pearson says
If Universities stuck to educating rather than entertaining, maybe such things would not happen.
Big TED says
The Baptists are at it again.
Ken Starr is fired as president but stays as chancellor. And this makes sense because . . .
I know Art Briles. He is NOT the man they are says he is. He is who Baylor University has chosen for their fall guy! What a shame to treat this gentlemen in this manor. I will not forget & I will NEVER be a baylor fan again!
Arthur Hartsock says
These problems exist because of the emphasis on sports in many major Universities. And of course the biggest reason is money. The NFL can start a minor-league just like Major League Baseball if they want to. The Universities don’t need to do this for them. From Penn State to Baylor the incestuous link between major college sports and money is ruining the Universities all over the US.
Sports should follow the European model. Clubs for high and college kids. The coaches are like people on welfare. Is any person going to vote to terminate their income from the govt? The dim party is the Party of Patronage for many years. This started at least during the big city machine boss politics during the 20s. Things must have been pretty rough in those days when the GOP controlled things through financial monopoly with an iron fist. I am glad I missed it but the pendulum has swung the other way now since the dim have enacted so much legislation of patronage. They clearly understand the power of the law to control the flow of money.
Oh no, not again…
Seems they carefully omitted mention of the male victims.
I attended Baylor many years ago, and then as now, female students jog all over campus after dark, walk to the library alone late at night, etc. Like many colleges, Baylor is located in the middle of a very poor part of Waco, and women should use common sense and avoid walking around campus alone at night. Not sure where or when these rapes occurred, and being a woman myself, would never blame these women for what happened to them, but also being a woman, I take simple precautions of being careful about being alone at night away from home and carry a knife in my pocket at all times. I also recently got a license to carry a concealed handgun, and these guys should probably be sure they don’t try this stuff with a woman from Texas, since in this state, you never know who’s packing.