After the Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced that they were hiring disgraced former Baylor coach Art Briles as an assistant earlier today, the CFL declared tonight that Briles won’t be joining the franchise after all:
“Art Briles will no longer be joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a coach. We came to this decision this evening following a lengthy discussion between the league and the Hamilton organization. We wish Mr. Briles all the best in his future endeavours.”
That brief statement comes just four hours after the league released an even briefer one on the subject amid considerable backlash, saying that they were “in continuing discussions” with the Tiger-Cats about the new hire. Briles oversaw Baylor’s football program during a period in which its players were accused of committing up to 52 sexual assaults, most of which were swept under the rug.
Given some of the comments Tiger-Cats CEO Scott Mitchell made about Briles today, it does not appear that he was enthusiastic about the decision to reverse the hire.
“It’s a terribly unfortunate background to it,” Mitchell told CFL site 3 Down Nation about the dozens of sexual assaults that occurred at Baylor under Briles. “But that doesn’t take away that people feel strongly that Art Briles is a good person who deserves the opportunity to be a coach.”
There are other people, however, who feel strongly that overseeing a college program in which football was made a priority over the basic humanity of female students is something that makes Art Briles very much the opposite of a good person who deserves the opportunity to be a coach. The CFL has apparently now decided to listen to some of those people.
The CFL could have stopped this mess on their own terms, rather than allowing the news to go public and making a move only in the face of criticism, at least according to Mitchell’s interview. He claimed that the Tiger-Cats informed the league of the move well in advance of the hiring announcement today. The decision to reverse course seems to have been motivated entirely by today’s reaction. At any rate, the Tiger-Cats don’t seem to have seen it coming—when asked if the team would consider not hiring Briles due to backlash, Mitchell had plainly answered “No.”