No Baylor assistant coaches have spoken to the media since the release of the Pepper Hamilton report and Art Briles’s subsequent firing in May.
That isn’t going to change.
Baylor revealed Tuesday that Jim Grobe will be the only Baylor coach to speak with the media throughout this season. Grobe’s first media availability of the season is on Thursday.
A number of programs shield their assistants from the media — Nick Saban and Alabama being the most prominent example — but that was not Baylor’s policy. The school changed its thinking after news of former Baylor defensive end Sam Ukwuachu’s rape trial went public just before last season.
Baylor’s motives are obvious and somewhat understandable: to circle the wagons and protect the brand through silence. Though, how much does a school really serve its stakeholders when its strategy to overcome a cover-up is to shun any and all opportunities for transparency and genuine forthrightness?
A number of assistants were named in Pepper Hamilton’s 13-page “findings of fact.” A snippet:
In certain instances, including reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, athletics and football personnel affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence and dating violence to an appropriate administrator outside of athletics. In those instances, football coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or a parent of a complainant and did not report the misconduct. As a result, no action was taken to support complainants, fairly and impartially evaluate the conduct under Title IX, address identified cultural concerns within the football program, or protect campus safety once aware of a potential pattern of sexual violence by multiple football players.
In addition, some football coaches and staff took improper steps in response to disclosures of sexual assault or dating violence that precluded the University from fulfilling its legal obligations. Football staff conducted their own untrained internal inquiries, outside of policy, which improperly discredited complainants and denied them the right to a fair, impartial and informed investigation, interim measures or processes promised under University policy. In some cases, internal steps gave the illusion of responsiveness to complainants but failed to provide a meaningful institutional response under Title IX.
Which assistants? How many? We have no idea and we never will unless someone from the inside chooses to come forward and name names.
The lack of further comment from Baylor — in making sure nothing beyond the 13-page report ever gets put to writing — and then imposing a clause of silence on its employees cast a pall on the entire staff.
Those who participated in the cover-up Pepper Hamilton found and the Baylor regents found compelling enough to jettison its top three employees should never work in college football again. That they should leave Baylor after this season without facing a single question from the media doesn’t feel right.
But those who had no knowledge and did nothing wrong deserve a chance to clear their names and pursue work with a clean slate following this season. That they don’t have a chance to stand up for themselves and their professional futures doesn’t feel right, either.
But Baylor has made sure we have no idea which assistant coaches belong in either group. And we probably never will.