Three Baylor football players have been suspended in connection with an ongoing sexual assault investigation, according to ESPN.
At a Wednesday press conference, Baylor head coach Matt Rhule confirmed that freshmen John Arthur, Justin Harris and Tre'von Lewis, as well as sophomore Eric Ogor, have all been suspended. Only three of the players named have been suspended in connection with the sexual assault investigation, but Rhule declined to confirm which player had been suspended for another matter.
The news comes a month after reports surfaced that prosecutors were investigating allegations of sexual assault made by female members of Baylor's equestrian team against unnamed football players. Rhule told an NBC affiliate on Tuesday that allegations were made against “a couple of young men on the team,” but he declined to discuss the specifics of the case at that time other than to say the players had been "separated" from the team during the investigation.
The allegations were made in November, which necessitates that all three of the players be removed from the team before spring practices begin.
According to Rhule, Baylor has implemented an aggressive education program for players on how to conduct themselves off the field. The initiative was in response to the 105 recommendations made by law firm Pepper Hamilton in the wake of the school’s previous wide-ranging sexual assault scandal.
At Wednesday's press conference, Rhule refuted the idea that sexual assault was a part of Baylor's culture. "These are the issues everywhere. This isn't a Baylor thing," Rhule said. "This is an 'our world' thing."
He also said that answering questions about the situation was an important part of maintaining transparency. "Things happen all the time, everywhere," Rhule told reporters. "You can either hide from it and try to hide it from all you guys so it looks like everything is great, and you end up not doing the right thing. Or you can be very transparent about things, knowing that you open yourself up for criticism."
Baylor President Linda Livingstone addressed the current situation with the following statement:
"Baylor University takes any allegation of sexual assault seriously. The University’s new leadership team is unwavering in our commitment to follow our well-documented Title IX policy and procedures in regards to reporting and responding to incidents of sexual assault. The responsibility of responding to alleged incidents of sexual violence does not rest solely in the hands of any specific individual or unit. It is a University response dictated by our Title IX policy. Baylor University remains committed to providing for the safety and security of our campus community.”