MOUNT VERNON, TX — On Friday, Mount Vernon ISD announced it has hired former Baylor head football coach Art Briles as the new high school head football coach.
Briles was fired from Baylor in 2016 amid a sex assault scandal. During the scandal in 2016, reports surfaced that indicated Baylor officials, including coaches, knew about many of the incidents and that most players didn’t face disciplinary actions.
Officials with Baylor declined to comment on his hire.
"After a through due diligence process and several earnest conversations, we believe our students will benefit greatly from his skills and experience," said Dr. Jason McCullough, the Superintendent at Mount Vernon ISD.
McCullough said the district went through a vetting process before hiring Briles. But on Tuesday, he admitted to reporters that nobody talked to any of the sexual assault victims.
Dr. Emma Wood is a psychologist in Waco who treated four of the 17 victims. She said ignoring them during the hiring process was a mistake.
"Their voices have been repeatedly silenced," Wood said. "There are some women that have bravely come forward and those stories should have been taken into consideration."
Wood said all four of her former clients suffer from PTSD. She said this hire hurts their healing process.
"When you have somebody who was associated with perpetrators committing sexual assault and protecting them and you see those people continuing to have success in their lives, be employable, while you are crippled by your PTSD or working really hard to manage it every day, that doesn't feel like justice," Wood said.
Grant Teaff is the former Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association and supervisor of the association's ethics committee. He offered positive recommendations to the board of trustees for Briles.
"I have known Art Briles for over 30 years as an extremely successful high school coach and through his years as a college coach," said Teaff. "I have observed him as a man, husband, father, grandfather, and as a coach, always forthright and stellar."
Briles was approved for a two-year contract at the school board meeting on Friday.
"I have learned many lessons during my time as a coach," said Briles. "Some lessons are born out of success and others out of failure. But they all present opportunities to grow, learn, teach, as we strive for excellence both on and off the field."
Wood believes hiring Briles sends the wrong message to people who commit these offenses.
"There's not going to be learning for Art Briles, for Baylor University, for any of the people involved," Wood said. "When you do something so egregious, a natural consequence would be to lose the ability to do that thing."
Following Mount Vernon ISD's announcement, former Baylor Football star Robert Griffin III, congratulated Briles on Twitter.