Art Briles, a Texas high school football coaching legend, arrived at Baylor in 2008. He was charged with building – not rebuilding, but building – a program that had languished as a Division I doormat for most of the previous century.
Briles responded with four 10-win seasons, two Big 12 championships and a 32-7 record over the last three years.
After numerous sexual-assault allegations against football players were swept under the rug in recent years, however, Baylor gave Briles the axe. The 60-year-old was informed Thursday that he will be dismissed.
“Well, obviously Baylor felt they could no longer stand behind Art Briles,” college football analyst and OutkicktheCoverage.com writer Clay Travis said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I’m curious, still, how they allowed their athletic director to continue and how Ken Starr will still be receiving a paycheck.”
Starr, who was removed as president, will remain at the university as a chancellor and law school professor. Athletic director Ian McCaw, meanwhile, has been placed on probation.
“To me, the behavior of all three is emblematic of a larger truth, which is: If you win, people will make excuses for you to the end of heaven and beyond,” Travis said. “For a Baptist institution like Baylor to pull off what they did with Art Briles, I think, just goes to show you how intoxicating winning is, particularly when they’ve never won before.”
While Doug Gottlieb believes covering up sexual assault is a fireable offense, he wonders whether universities should be investigating criminal complaints. Travis agrees 100 percent.
“This is a twin problem,” he said. “One is if you win in college athletics, people will look the other way for basically anything. Let’s be honest. They pretty much will. And two is Title IX is a well-intentioned attempt to make sexual assault less likely and also make campuses safer. The problem is as it’s applied, colleges do not have the resources or ability to investigate sexual assault and make determinations of fact about whether or not they are likely or not likely to occur.”
If there were, say, a murder or kidnapping on campus, would you want to call the campus police or the actual police? You’d probably want to call the actual police.
Sexual assault is no different.
“With a serious felony like sexual assault, police should be investigating,” Travis said. “Police who understand how the law works, who understand how the constitution works, who understand how the criminal justice system is applied should be investigating it – not random people on college campuses who are otherwise figuring out whether somebody cheated on a chemistry test. That is the No. 1 biggest flaw of Title IX. The other aspect of Title IX that is a joke is that it puts colleges in that business to begin with.”
In addition, the standard of proof required in Title IX investigations, Feldman pointed out, is different than the standard of proof required in criminal investigations.
“Whereas you have to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of rape to be charged with rape, you only have to be found culpable by 50 percent plus a scintilla in order to be responsible for a rape on a college campus,” Travis explained. “So you have two different investigations simultaneously proceeding with two different stands of proof. It’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, (Baylor is) not equipped to deal with it, and today it cost Art Briles his job – in conjunction with the win-at-all-costs mentality and the failure to report significant criminal activity.
“(It’s) a heinous wrong, but I don’t think it’s unique,” Travis continued. “I think this could happen lots of places. I think there are tons of athletic directors and coaches reading this, saying, ‘Oh, crap, we regularly do our own investigations, too. We shouldn’t be doing this. If Baylor, a religious institution, can have it happen, it can happen lots of places.’”