Former Baylor head football coach Art Briles and former athletic director Ian McCaw knew about an alleged group sexual assault and chose not to report it, according to a statement issued yesterday by the university. This confirmation also indicates that the assistant coaches who spoke out last week in defense of Briles weren’t being truthful about his role in the scandal.
Details of who knew what, and when, remain difficult to come by; there is no written report of the university’s investigation into the scandal. The university fired Briles and forced McCaw to resign in May, after the investigation’s initial findings of fact showed “specific failings within both the football program and Athletics Department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player, to take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, and to take action in response to a report of dating violence,” among other faults. But for months, no specific information beyond that vague language was made available by either the university or the law firm behind the investigation, Pepper Hamilton.
Then, two weeks ago, several members of the university’s Board of Regents told the Wall Street Journal that the “reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players” related to an alleged gang rape—which Briles had known about and chosen not to report. The majority of the football staff (including offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, son of Art) pushed back on that claim with a statement laying out an alternate version of events where the allegations were reported to the judicial affairs department. Now, the university has released a statement confirming that Briles and McCaw were both aware of the alleged group sexual assault and neither chose to report it.
The university says that a female student-athlete told her head coach in 2013 that she had been sexually assaulted by five football players a year earlier, providing the names of the players involved. That head coach then shared the assault allegations with Briles, McCaw and the sports administrator for the female athlete’s team.
Per the statement, all coaches and athletic staff involved had a responsibility to report the allegations either to the school’s judicial affairs department, to the campus police, or to the university vice president of human resources (now the Title IX coordinator).
None of them did.
Baylor says that McCaw initially denied knowledge of the allegations when first asked about them in 2015, after other reports of sexual assault involving the football team began to surface. He then backtracked to tell the university that he had in fact been made aware of the allegations in 2013. The university’s statement does not say whether McCaw had any contact with the female athlete, but he said he chose not to report because he did not believe she wanted a report to be filed. This is not how university employee reporting responsibilities work.
Technically, that the university provided a statement here is a slight step towards clarity. Realistically, it is but one more in a series of ineffective piecemeal attempts intended to restore the school’s image while it continues to refuse to distance itself from Briles and his toxic legacy.