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Baylor’s great year continues with a title in men’s basketball, and a satin pillow slap from the NCAA in an investigation that should have ended years ago.
On Wednesday, the NCAA finally announced its ruling from its investigation into the Baylor athletic department and former football coach Art Briles that began back in 2018 regarding sexual assault claims and a failure to comply with Title IX laws.
In case you are wondering, it’s now August 2021.
Baylor always figured the best way around all of this was to fire Art Briles. In the end, they were right, but their callus methods cost them millions and the best football coach they ever had.
Baylor needed to update its attitude toward sexual assault claims, which it has done, but how the school arrived to this point would provide a semester’s worth of material for a college PR class.
The NCAA did find other violations, including impermissible benefits, drug testing violations in the football program, and violations involving a female hostess group.
The “penalties” for Baylor include four years of probation, recruiting restrictions, a vacation of records and a five-year show-cause order limiting all athletically related duties for the former assistant director of football operations.
The best part: a $5,000 fine. For Baylor.
If you are doing the math at home, both Baylor University and now the NCAA have admitted that Briles did nothing wrong in this case.
He has not had a major coaching job since he was fired in May 2016.
“I’m no doubt, the most scrutinized and investigated college head Coach in last 25 years,” Briles said via text message. “NCAA found no wrongdoing or violations for a reason.
“Small window of hope, feels large. Mom (and) Dad smiling today in Heaven.”
Baylor always had hoped it could rely on the North Carolina model to escape major penalty, which is exactly how this played out.
North Carolina escaped any NCAA penalties in its academic fraud case back in 2017 because there was nothing the athletic department did that technically violated the rule book.
There are no exact rules in the large NCAA rule book that Baylor technically violated.
The closest rule Baylor violated would have been the vague “lack of institutional control.” In this case, the behavior of certain members of the Baylor board was in question.
To penalize a school for the behavior of its board members would have potentially set a precedent, and start a legal fight the NCAA does not want.
The NCAA wrote about its findings, “Baylor admitted to moral and ethical failings in its handling of sexual and interpersonal violence on campus but argued those failings, however egregious, did not constitute violations of NCAA rules.
“Ultimately, and with tremendous reluctance, this panel agrees. To arrive at a different outcome would require the (committee) to ignore the rules the Association’s membership has adopted — rules under which the (committee) is required to adjudicate. Such an outcome would be antithetical to the integrity of the infractions process.”
Baylor’s case may have been aided, immeasurably, by the fact that current BU president Linda Livingstone was recently named to the NCAA’s 23-member Constitution Committee.
Former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw, who is now the AD at Liberty, resigned from his position at BU amid the fallout from this.
He said via text message, “It is tragic that Baylor’s decades-long, campus-wide sexual assault scandal arose due to systemic failings in campus safety and institutional adjudicatory processes as outlined in the 2014 Margolis Healy report.”
The Margolis Healy report detailed many of the problems Baylor either denied, and has since tried to deal with, regarding sexual assault claims from its students.
Briles’ lawyer, Scott Tompsett, said in a statement, “Art Briles has been completely exonerated and cleared of all NCAA violations alleged against him. As the NCAA Committee on Infractions explained, the conduct at issue was pervasive and widespread throughout the Baylor campus, and it was condoned or ignored by the highest levels of Baylor’s leadership.
“The NCAA’s decision today clears the way for Mr. Briles to return to coaching college football.”
The NCAA’s decision is also the biggest win for Baylor in a year where it won a national title.