When asked Monday whether he knew Shawn Oakman—the former Baylor defensive end indicted for sexual assault—had entered his team’s locker room, Baylor coach Jim Grobe said he didn’t know who Oakman was. Now, he’s saying those comments were taken out of context (they weren’t) and the media did a poor job of asking follow-up questions (they didn’t).
During a media session Wednesday, Grobe took the time to address the latest Baylor-themed faux pas, specifically citing his, “I don’t know who Shawn Oakman is” line. The 64-year old head coach said he meant he didn’t know Oakman personally, and that insinuating he was oblivious to Oakman’s existence and his sexual assault history is incorrect. You can read his comments in full below via ESPN:
“When I left the press conference Monday I didn’t think there would be any confusion,” said Grobe, who has been Baylor’s coach for less than four months. “I thought the basic assumption was that I didn’t know Shawn Oakman. I would not recognize him, I’d never met him before. And to say I don’t know who Shawn Oakman is does not mean I don’t know the situation, but I don’t him personally. And so I wouldn’t be able to recognize him if he was in our locker room.
“I thought that was clear, but apparently it wasn’t. My point was, I don’t know Shawn personally.
“Had I recognized him, the situation would have been handled differently. But regardless of that, my comment of ‘I don’t know him’ was taken out of context and the way it was portrayed by some in the media, in my opinion, was unprofessional.”
“Maybe it would have been appropriate to follow up with the question with, ‘Do you know that Shawn Oakman played for Baylor?’ Or, ‘Did you know that after his senior season he was charged with a criminal offense?’ To those questions I would have obviously answered yes,” Grobe said. “I’m very aware of the misconduct issues that impacted this program prior to my arrival and the players involved, but my focus and my priority from the day I arrived have been the actions of both on and off the field of the guys who play for me now.
“I do not believe it was a good idea for Shawn to be in our locker room, and had I been made aware of the situation in advance, it would not have happened.”
For the sake of providing the context Grobe believes was missing from the initial wave of media reports stemming from Oakman’s post-game visit with his team, here is his full response when asked about Oakman’s visit following Friday’s win against Rice:
Grobe was insistent throughout his first response he was unaware of who Shawn Oakman is and what he looks like, adding a personal escape route by noting the number of people that congregate in and around the locker room following a game, and finishing by saying “I didn’t know he was there, or know who he is.” Grobe then ignored the follow-up questions posed by KECN’s Jessica Morrey to again reiterate that Oakman’s physical appearance is a mystery to him.
Grobe now claims he knew of both Baylor’s and Oakman’s history of sexual assault; that he’s simply focused on his current team; that he didn’t think it was a good idea for Oakman to be present in the team locker room. Yet, on Monday, when he was asked if he was “aware of who Shawn Oakman is”—a clear reference to Oakman’s history at Baylor—and whether he was aware he entered the team locker room (which, I can tell you, is not a place a person simply waltzes in), all he could muster was a response about his inability to recognize the 6-foot-8 former Baylor Bear.
Grobe knew precisely what the reporter was asking on Monday, just like anyone in Waco would; he just didn’t want to answer because he knew he fucked up.