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USA Today: Baylor, Coach Ignored Ukwuachu Red Flags

Jason Scott

On Thursday, Baylor football transfer Sam Ukwuachu was found guilty in district court of sexually assaulting a former Baylor women’s soccer player.

USA Today columnist Dan Wolken argues that if Baylor or football coach Art Briles had paid attention to Ukwuachu’s background during his recruitment, he might never have been on campus in the first place.

According to Wolken, a basic investigation into the details of Ukwuachu’s dismissal and exit from Boise State in May 2013 would have turned up red flags. At that time, Ukwuachu was dismissed from the team for attacking his girlfriend.

A second chance didn’t change Ukwuachu’s violent tendencies, and only months after his exit from Boise State, he was in trouble at Baylor.

Ukwuachu’s behavior cost him the entire 2014 season, and he never played a down of football for the Bears. But the way the university bumbled its way through the proceedings is indicative of a larger problem, Wolken suggests.

Because he could help the pass rush, Briles and Baylor officials exposed their campus community to the risk of violence, and one victim suffered the consequences of that decision. Wolken argues that it’s time for coaches and officials to be held accountable for recruiting decisions that put other students at risk.

A statement released by the university following Thursday’s verdict reads: “Acts of sexual violence contradict every value Baylor University upholds as a Christian community. In recent years we have joined university efforts nationally to prevent campus violence against women and sexual assault, to actively support survivors of sexual assault with compassion and care, and to take action against perpetrators. We have established a fully staffed Title IX office that employs a Title IX Coordinator and two full-time investigators. Maintaining a safe and caring community is central to Baylor’s mission and at the heart of our commitment to our students, faculty and staff.”

Ukwuachu is expected to be sentenced Friday. 

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