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Baylor regents explain why they fired Art Briles

Art Briles was fired for not forwarded sexual assault claims against Baylor football players to the schools Title IX and judicial affairs offices, according to accounts given by BU regents to the Wall Street Journal.

The comments by the individual regents to the Journal are the first by any Baylor personnel since the school jettisoned its successful coach on May 26.

From the report:

“There was a cultural issue there that was putting winning football games above everything else, including our values,” said J. Cary Gray,a lawyer and member of the Baylor board of regents. More broadly, he said, “we did not have a caring community when it came to these women who reported that they were assaulted. And that is not OK.”

Mr. Gray added that he has heard many people defend Mr. Briles as a person and coach who “just wanted to be in the offensive boardroom drawing up plays. That is not the job for the head coach of a college football program. It is a big business. It is a complex organization that involves millions of dollars, and you have got to have an effective CEO in that role.”

In total, Baylor football's sexual assault epidemic under Briles totaled 17 women bringing charges against 19 players -- with four claims of gang rape -- from 2011 through Briles's May firing. In all, football players accounted for 10.4 percent of Title IX claims for a 4-year period ending in 2014-15, Baylor claimed. With an enrollment approaching 17,000, Baylor's football roster accounts for roughly 0.6 percent of the overall student population.

The Journal writes that Briles conducted a tear-soaked meeting with BU regents on May 24, two days before his firing.

“He couldn’t speak he was so upset, and all of us were,” Mr. Gray said. “Art said, ‘I delegated down, and I know I shouldn’t have. And I had a system where I was the last to know, and I should have been the first to know.’ ”

Mr. Cannon said Mr. Briles quoted Scripture and expressed his regrets over the painful situation Baylor was in, but didn’t admit to wrongdoing.

The Briles camp -- which includes the entire remaining Baylor football coaching staff, save for interim head coach Jim Grobe -- has maintained the football program was improperly scapegoated for university-wide failings. Said Briles's lawyer, Ernest Cannon:

“They are pulling their own house down to justify the mistakes they made,” Mr. Cannon said. “He’s the football coach. That’s not his job [to enforce Title IX]. That’s their job.”

In one case, a Baylor female athlete alleged gang rape against a group of Bears football players. According to sources cited by the Journal, Briles said he hoped the woman would notify police but that he did not notify Baylor's Title IX office himself.

Baylor's Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford resigned earlier this month, stating the university was resistant to her investigating sexual assault claims across the university.

Baylor has won all six of its games without Briles, while the former head coach has made the rounds and worked the press in an effort to jump back into the game this winter.