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Baylor Head Coach Art Briles fired amid sex assault scandals

Report: Art Briles not hired by Southern Miss due to ongoing NCAA investigation
Posted at 10:55 AM, May 26, 2016
and last updated 2021-08-11 11:50:40-04

Baylor has fired embattled football coach Art Briles, News Channel 25 has confirmed. The dismissal comes in the midst of the rape and assault scandal that brought reports earlier this week that university president Ken Starr had been fired.

The school said Starr's situation is still under review, matching a News Channel 25 source who said the Starr ouster was not a done deal. 

Two days later, ESPN broke the report that Briles had been fired.

ESPN's Brett McMurphy's said Briles informed players via text that he would be leaving. News Channel 25 has confirmed the information from a source close to the situation.

Briles' daughter went to Facebook to comment on her father's termination.

Briles came to Baylor in 2008, after a successful five-year run at Houston. The Bears won Big 12 Conference titles in 2013 and 2014, when they finished tied with TCS.

Briles' Baylor teams won 62 games in eight years,, The bears have won 10 or more games four out of the last five years including the last three straight.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 and was drafted second overall by Washington in the 2012 NFL draft.

Last week, when pressure mounted to fire Briles, Baylor Athletic Director Ian McCaw appeared on Sirius XM College Sports to defend his coach.

"Art has done a great job transforming our football program. He is very troubled by behavior issues. We have to do it better," McGraw said.

McCaw’s appearance came a day after a blistering editorial in the Fort Worth Star Telegram by columnist Mac Engel called for Briles's firing.

"The quickest way to move on from any scandal is to fire the leadership, but dismissing Baylor president Ken Starr or athletic director Ian McCaw is not going to cut it," Engel wrote. "The only way Baylor can expedite this sordid ordeal is to fire the one guy whose overall impact in Waco is incalculable."

A source told News Channel 25 that the internet buzz about Starr was not true.

"The blogs and internet are not correct," the source said. "The proper information will be presented at the proper time. The situation is very fluid and changes repeatedly, everything is being analyzed and criticized."

The source said they expect the Baylor Board of Regents will do the right thing and what is best for the university.

On Tuesday, Horns Digest reported that the Board of Regents decided to fire Starr. Horns Digest is the only source that says it has independently confirmed the report.

In a statement, Baylor said they will not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources, but when official news is available the University will provide it.

"The Baylor Board of Regents continues its work to review the findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation and we anticipate further communication will come after the Board completes its deliberations," the statement said.

The scandal

Pepper Hamilton, a law firm, was retained by the board last fall to conduct a comprehensive review on the university’s response to interpersonal violence.

Initially officials with Baylor's media relations office said they not heard anything and have "no comment" regarding the reports.

Since 2013 Baylor has had a number of other sexual assault incidents.

Two football players, Sam Ukwuachu and Tevin Elliot, were convicted of sexually assaulting students in the last three years. 

In 2015, Ukwuachu was convicted of raping a fellow student in 2013 in his apartment near campus.

Ukwuachu's victim, a 20-year-old former Baylor athlete who has now transferred to another university, testified she resisted during the attack, and he told her what he was doing "wasn't rape" and asked her if she was going to call police.

Elliot was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of two counts of sexual assault in 2014.

One victim filed a Title IX lawsuit against Baylor in April, claiming she was just one of no less than six female students who said Elliot sexually assaulted and Baylor knew about those accusations. Elliott claimed in court any sexual encounters were consensual. 

In March Jacob Anderson, president of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Baylor, was charged with raping a teenage girl at a frat party.

Waco Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton said the victim, a Baylor student in her late teens, told investigators she was handed some type of punch at that party and told her to drink it.  Not long afterward, she became disoriented.

Last month, Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman bonded out of jail while facing a charge of sexual assault.

Oakman has been under investigation since April 3 after a woman claimed he raped her. He has not been convicted.

Last week the Board of Regents received a comprehensive briefing from Pepper Hamilton on how they handle sexual assault situations.

The University hired the firm last September to conduct an independent and external investigation of the University’s response to reports of sexual and interpersonal violence.

They have not released any findings from the review.

The Waco Police Department came under fire last week when ESPN reported officers kept documents from at least an assault case involving Baylor University football players unavailable to the public in the past.

"The ESPN reporter was using sensationalism to try to sell the story. Facts were taken out of context." said Waco Police Spokesman Patrick Swanton. "We were not hiding anything to protect someone. That is not true."

ESPN said they obtained documents that reveal unknown allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence involving football players at Baylor.

According to the report, police documents indicate Baylor officials, including coaches, knew about many of the incidents and most players didn’t face disciplinary actions.

The report states police took extra steps to keep documents from public view in a 2011 assault case that resulted in three football players being charged.

The sports network cited  a police report that indicated the investigating officer asked the commander to pull the case from the computer system for it to only be accessed by certain people. The report was allegedly placed in a locked office.

Swanton said the detective did ask the commander to get the report pulled from the system with the intention of not having interference from outside the investigation. 

“On occasion detectives may pull the narratives of various reports to maintain the integrity of the case and ensure a fair and impartial investigation,” said Swanton in a statement.

He added certain information is always available when inquired, including date, location, times, times of the offense and a narrative of what occurred. Information not released includes sexual assault victims’ names and suspects until a person is formally charged.

The report also states a sexual assault allegation against a former star player remained as an open case for four years. ESPN says this shields details from public view, under Texas open records law. 

This is a developing story.

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