Baylor University has announced it is firing its football coach Art Brile and demoting its president over accusations of mishandling of sexual assault cases involving football players.
Baylor President Ken Starr has extended a formal apology to the victims of these assaults and confirmed he will be leaving his position as president on May 31st. He will remain at the university as a chancellor and law professor.
These changes come as a review surfaces that states the university did little if anything to respond to the claims of female students that they were sexually assaulted by football players. Amidst mounting accusations, the university hired the law firm Pepper Hamilton to investigate these allegations and how they were handled. The firm”found examples of actions by university administrators that directly discouraged complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes, or that contributed to or accommodated a hostile environment.” There was even one occasion found where “those actions constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.”
“We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students,” said Richard Willis, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. “The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.”
The review explicitly placed responsibility for the inadequate responses on “a lack of institutional support and engagement by senior leadership.” It also made recommendations as to how Baylor can better comply with federal standards of handling sexual assault cases.
Baylor is not currently under investigation by the federal government, but the US Department of Education has stated that it “will not hesitate to investigate if necessary.”