In what could be the first step toward league-imposed disciplinary measures against Baylor, the Big 12 board of directors acknowledged Wednesday that it has requested “a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the sexual assaults at the university” that led to ongoing changes within the school’s football program and university leadership.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent a letter Wednesday to Baylor interim president David Garland requesting “all documents associated with the investigations of sexual assaults at Baylor.” In a release from league officials, Bowlsby acknowledged that the correspondence was a follow-up to a similar request the board of directors made on May 24.
Specifically, league executives have requested “any information that has been conveyed orally to university leadership or to its Board of Regents including, but not limited to, the unedited written or verbal information from Pepper Hamilton, omitting only the names of any involved students. Internal documents pertinent to the investigation have also been requested.”
On multiple occasions, Baylor officials have made it clear they have no intention of releasing the full findings given to the school by the Pepper Hamilton law firm that investigated allegations of sexual assaults by Baylor football players. Those allegations led to the departures of football coach Art Briles and athletic director Ian McCaw, as well as the removal of school president Ken Starr, who remains employed by Baylor as a law professor.
In a written statement, the league’s board of directors said it “is gravely and deeply concerned by media reports about activities involving the athletics program at Baylor University.”
Officials stressed that the conference “is appropriately concerned with the discovery of the facts” in the cases because many involve current and former Baylor athletes. The release stressed that league officials believe “full disclosure is vital to assess the impact on the Big 12” from these incidents.
In a statement, Bowlsby said: “All of our member universities consider student safety and security to be paramount among institutional responsibilities. The Big 12 board of directors, each member of the conference and its student-athletes want to convey that our thoughts, concerns and sympathies are with the Baylor survivors and their families.”
Baylor officials, in a response distributed by a school spokeswoman, acknowledged receiving the letter from Bowlsby and said Garland has contacted the commissioner. The statement added that Baylor “is reviewing the Big 12’s request for additional information in light of Baylor’s obligations under federal privacy law and the commitment of confidentiality to the brave survivors who shared their experiences to help the university better understand its shortcomings.”
The response said Garland will seek an opportunity to personally discuss the investigation and the Big 12’s request with Bowlsby. Baylor officials also reiterated that the findings of fact issued in the Pepper Hamilton report “fully reflect the themes, core values and failings identified in the investigation.” Garland stressed that Baylor regents chose to release what the “severely critical findings of facts” from the Pepper Hamilton report because it was in the best interest of the school to do so, as well as alerting the NCAA to possible rules violations.
The response concludes with this statement: “Baylor remains confident in the actions it has taken to ensure improvement in student safety and to help restore confidence that its priorities and values remain in the proper order. We hope to not only apply what we learn and to approach the highest levels of prevention, response and support for students impacted by these acts, but also to share what we learn with other higher education institutions for the benefit of students everywhere.”