Other than Jerry Sandusky’s 2011 child sex abuse outrage that rocked Penn State and got iconic coach Joe Paterno fired, there’s been no bigger disgrace at the collegiate level than the recent sexual assault scandal attributed to football players, coaches and high-level administrators at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. A top-ranked private Christian school, Baylor is associated with the Baptist Church.*
A Philadelphia law firm hired by Baylor to investigate the matter wound up identifying at least 52 ‘acts of rape,’ including five gang rapes, by at least 31 football players from 2011 to 2014. These numbers may continue to grow. One lawsuit filed by a Baylor graduate who claimed she was raped by two football players in 2013 alleged the school had a “culture of sexual violence within Baylor’s athletics in which the school implemented a ‘show ‘em a good time’ policy,” using sex to lure prospective football recruits.
An article in The Comeback by Alex Putterman says that “Perhaps most damning, as far as the administration’s culpability goes, is the allegation in the suit that Baylor once (agreed) to pay the tuition of a rape victim in exchange for her signing a nondisclosure agreement. If that is indeed the case, the university knowingly hid an assault committed by one of its players. That’s not negligence, it’s an active cover-up.”
Head football coach Art Briles, athletic director Ian McCaw and school president Ken Starr all lost their jobs as a result of the scandal and resignations were tendered by Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford, school trustees Christopher Howard and Kathy Willis as well as Edwin Trevathan, the school’s provost and executive vice president.
In a 2013 interview with ESPN The Magazine and espnW, WNBA star and Baylor graduate Brittney Griner said the women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey told players not to be open about their sexuality since it would look bad for the program. According to several reports, protecting the sports program was the reason some Baylor employees ignored reports by female students that they had been raped.
In what seems the ultimate act of hypocrisy, if female students admitted they had been drinking prior to the rape, some employees would say the drinking violated the school’s student conduct policy so no action could be taken. That sleight of hand kept serious violations from being filed against Bears football players and the athletic program.
Baylor’s student handbook touts its strong Christian values yet in cases of rape, it seems the women were considered most responsible for the violence inflicted on them, e.g. hanging out with the wrong people, wearing the wrong clothing, drinking, going to the wrong places, etc. It appears that Baylor’s athletic culture supported winning at any cost to keep the wins and the money coming in.
In an ironic follow-up to Baylor’s athletic department house cleaning, Brandon Washington, recently hired as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the football program has already been fired. Arrested in a prostitution sting early last month, his job was terminated by Baylor the same day the school was made aware of his arrest.
Washington came to Baylor from Temple University along with new football coach Matt Rhule. Speaking about the incident, Rhule said “When we arrived at Baylor, we made a commitment to character and integrity in our program. Brandon’s actions are completely unacceptable. We will not tolerate conduct that is contradictory to these values.” At least Rhule’s values seem to be working.
Moving from crime to punishment, the NCAA says it’s still investigating the matter. But why? It’s certainly not going to get any better. As for the Big 12, if it weren’t such a serious matter, their penalty would be a joke. According to David Boren, Big 12 board of directors chairman and University of Oklahoma president:
“Effective immediately, the Conference is withholding 25 percent of Baylor’s share of any future revenue distribution until the proper execution of controls is independently verified. By taking these actions the Board desires to ensure that the changes that were promised are actually made and that systems are in place to avoid future problems. The proportional withholding of revenue distribution payments will be in effect until the Board has determined that Baylor is in compliance with Conference bylaws and regulations as well as all components of Title IX.”
The money will be placed in escrow, according to Dan Wolken of USA TODAY Sports, eventually to be returned to Baylor pending review results. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby estimates the 2016-17 total revenue at $34 million, meaning that approximately $8.5 million of Baylor’s money is on the line if they don’t clean up their act. Was the money really worth more than these women?
* For a comparison of how two prime institutions of higher learning blackened their reputations, go to: http://thecomeback.com/?s=baylor%2C+penn+state
By Brian Patrick