News broke this morning that Baylor had fired their head football coach, Art Briles. This was shocking to many, myself included. Many news outlets reported earlier in the week that Ken Starr would be the fall guy, not Briles. As reports came out and Briles' involvement became clear, I didn't see any way that Art Briles could remain the head coach at Baylor.
Unless, of course, Baylor valued success on the field more than the lives of their students. According to the findings of the Pepper Hamilton report, this was exactly the case. In one excerpt from the report, it alleges, " ... football coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or parent and did not report the misconduct."
But here's the kicker... Art Briles was the only coach to be terminated, at least that we know of at the current juncture. The report clearly states "multiple coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or parent." According to a report, Briles told his players that he was the only coach to be fired:
I have many different emotions about this scandal. How could coaches and administration meet with these victims and their families, and have the gall to ask them not to come forward? To go back to my first point, it is now apparent that Baylor valued success on the football field more than the lives and well-being of their students.
The report acknowledges a lack of control. How can the report acknowledge a systemic lack of control within the football program, but Baylor chooses to fire one man in the program? How does that make any sense? And while we are at it, why are we so quick to praise Baylor for firing Briles? The real question is, why hadn't it happened sooner? Baylor administration chose to take accountability for their actions, but that was when they realized they were neck-deep in a massive coverup after the media began to ask questions. According to the report, " ... an overwhelming majority of sexual assault cases were not dealt with promptly from 2012-2015."
Is firing Art Briles justice? Is a demotion of Ken Starr justice? Ken Starr was relegated to Chancellor of the University! Athletic Director Ian McCaw was "sanctioned and placed on probation," according to the report.
Here lies another burning question: How can a conclusion be drawn that Briles and Starr were involved directly in this scandal, but McCaw knew nothing? McCaw is required to know. That is his job. He is Briles' boss. If he didn't know, he chose not to know. Having your head in the sand does not mean you are innocent. If Baylor wants to be consistent and make any sort of sense, then McCaw has to go, along with the coaches who also knew.
I feel for Baylor fans and alumni today. This is a sad day, I'm sure. I couldn't imagine what I feel if I learned the administration and coaches at my school felt the need to go to the lengths that the powers-that-be at Baylor did to keep a once-floundering football program relevant.
As a university, there are people that look up to you, look to you, and look down on you. There are children who are die-hard Baylor fans, whose parents are alumni, who will have to know the truth of how their favorite football team rose to national prominence. I feel for those kids. I know how it felt for my favorite team to be terrible at football. OSU used to be awful. I remember it clearly. Now I know how it feels to be really good.
I'm thankful Oklahoma State did it the right way.
Football isn't everything. Sports aren't everything. I think today we can learn a valuable lesson on respect for one another. The administration at Baylor did not respect the tribulations of these victims, and that's a problem. As a university, nothing should be more important than the well-being of your students, especially not football.
We aren't the only ones who can learn from this. Collegiate athletics programs around the country can learn a thing or two from this ordeal ...
No amount of wins is worth your integrity.