[Updated (5/26/2016, 1:17 p.m.) with details from a university summary of an investigative report.]
Baylor University has moved to fire its head football coach, Art Briles, according to a statement from the Texas institution. In addition, Baylor said that Kenneth W. Starr, the university’s president, would be removed but would retain the more-ceremonial role of chancellor. Finally, the athletic director, Ian McCaw, has been “sanctioned and placed on probation.”
The moves occurred on Thursday amid intense controversy over how the university has handled sexual assaults involving football players.
In its statement, Baylor also summarized the findings of an investigation by the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLC into the institution’s handling of alleged sexual assaults. Among the findings in the investigative report:
- Administrators were found to have directly discouraged students from using the student-conduct process to report sexual assaults.
- In some instances, members of the athletics staff took steps to “actively divert” assault cases involving athletes from the student-conduct process. “In some cases,” the report reads, “football coaches and staff had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules, and that there was no culture of accountability for misconduct.”
- Baylor’s student-conduct process did not resolve reports of sexual assault fairly and promptly, as required by the federal gender-equity law Title IX. The university consistently failed to support Title IX complainants through interim measures, and sometimes Baylor did not take steps to eliminate a potentially hostile environment.
- Administrators who handled Title IX complaints before November 2014 did not fully understand the complexities of reporting sexual violence given Baylor’s policies prohibiting alcohol and premarital sex.
- Until the 2014-15 academic year, the university did not provide proper training about Title IX policies, and did not identify or train employees under Title IX. It was only in November 2014 that the position of Baylor’s Title IX coordinator was not assigned to a senior administrator who had other full-time responsibilities.
The personnel decisions also came amid widespread speculation, beginning on Tuesday, that the leadership fallout would be confined to Mr. Starr, and not Mr. Briles.
The Baptist university has been under a cloud of controversy for many months, as reports have surfaced about football players who have been accused, and even convicted, of sexual assault. The most recent report, by ESPN’s Outside the Lines, found that very few athletes involved in criminal incidents in recent years had been punished by the institution.
After rumors surfaced on Tuesday that Mr. Starr had been fired, alumni came to his defense, saying the Board of Regents was making him into a scapegoat.
According to USA Today, Mr. Briles received nearly $6 million in total compensation in the 2014 calendar year.