Baylor University has fired head football coach Art Briles amid a rape scandal and the school’s handling of sexual assault allegations.
In an announcement from the Baylor University board of regents made shortly after noon on Thursday, the school also announced that President Ken Starr will be reassigned to chancellor effective May 31 and will remain a professor at Baylor University Law School. Baylor also has sanctioned athletic director Ian McCaw and placed him on probation. The school also has dismissed additional members of the school’s administration and athletic department.
The announcement comes as a result of an independent and external review led by Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton.
“We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus,” Richard Willis, chair of the Baylor board of regents, said in a statement Thursday. “This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students. The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.”
Multiple media outlets, including ESPN and Horns Digest, reported the firing Thursday morning. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Briles informed his players of the decision to remove him as coach via text. Chip Brown of Horns Digest also reported that the Baylor University board of regents voted to fire Briles.
There were reports that Starr was already out as president, but Willis said Tuesday Starr remained as president, and that an official announcement was expected June 3.
Baylor and Briles have been criticized for the number of recent sexual assault reports and its handling of those reports and sexual assault allegations. Former Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman was arrested for sexual assault in April. Last year, former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu, who had transferred from Boise State and never played for the Bears, was convicted of sexually assaulting a Baylor soccer player. In 2014, former player Tevin Elliott was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Last week, an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report detailed more sexual violence allegations against Baylor football players and added the Waco Police Department may have protected a player by locking an incident report in an office and pulling it from the computer system “so that only persons who had a reason to inquire about the report would be able to access it,” according to the report.
“We, as the governing Board of this University, offer our apologies to the many who sought help from the University. We are deeply sorry for the harm that survivors have endured,” Ron Murff, chair-elect of the Baylor board of regents, said in a statement. “Baylor's mission to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community remains our primary imperative. The Board has taken decisive action to ensure the University's priorities are aligned with our unyielding commitment to that mission.”
Briles went 65-37 in eight seasons at Baylor, leading the Bears to two Big 12 Conference championships. He is 99-65 overall in 13 seasons as a head coach, including five at the University of Houston.