The first step in recovery – recovery from alcoholism, recovery from drug addiction, recovery from anything – is said to be an acknowledgement that you have the problem.
Yet, nary a day goes by that I don’t hear from some one with allegiances to Baylor who claims the former football coach did nothing wrong.
This, despite the fact that one of Art Briles’ former players, Tevin Elliott, sits in prison with a 20-year sentence for two counts of sexual assault. This, despite the fact that a Briles’ transfer recruit, Sam Ukwuachu, was sentenced a year ago to 180 days in jail and 10 years of felony probation for sexually assaulting a Baylor female athlete.
It was baffling, therefore, to hear in May that new football coach Jim Grobe was retaining Briles’ coaching staff.
Baylor, no doubt, has been eager to turn the page. But as long as members of Briles’ staff remain on the sidelines – especially Briles’ son Kendal and son-in-law Jeff Lebby – the school can expect to be continually reminded of the scandal.
And then came a column Friday in The Huffington Post about rape victim Brenda Tracy’s visit to Baylor in July to discuss sexual violence among athletes. Tracy was gang-raped by football players in a 1998 episode at Oregon State.
"My time in Waco was good," Tracy wrote of the invited visit. "You could tell immediately that coach Grobe cared about his team and he wanted to help heal the kids that were left behind from the ‘scandal.’"
But after her talk in front of the team, she said, one of the Baylor assistant coaches grabbed her and ushered her into an adjoining office.
Speaking on ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Friday, Tracy said, "One of the first things he says is he didn't understand why I was there. He said this wasn't a football issue. This was an issue on the rest of the campus.
"And he just went on and on that Art Briles did absolutely nothing, and this was all unfounded and nothing happened. and they were being treated unfairly. and there was some conspiracy going on against Baylor football."
Tracy did not name the assistant coach either in her Huffington Post article or on ESPN, but she was accompanied by Baylor Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford when the incident occurred.
Baylor issued a statement Friday saying that it was "looking into" the conversation between Tracy and the coach.
But here’s a better suggestion, Baylor. Why not just pick up the phone and ask your Title IX coordinator, Crawford, what happened?
And once she confirmed it, for the university’s sake and the team’s sake, the assistant coach should have joined Briles in the unemployment line, ideally by Friday night.
Briles, by the way, isn’t helping the Baylor healing process by touring the country, calling himself a "righteous man" and insisting he’ll have a new coaching job by December.
With each Briles public appearance, the media is compelled to recount the ugly details of the Baylor scandal.
Though the Pepper Hamilton investigation apparently never rendered a pen-and-ink verdict, its findings clearly implicated Briles. The ex-coach’s apologists can find it all on the internet, if they would take the time to look.
Some have suggested that Baylor’s $20 million settlement with Briles shows that he did nothing wrong. But as one of the victims’ fathers has suggested, the settlement was the result of Briles threatening to flip and testify against the university. Briles, one suspects, could have been an spectacularly damaging witness.
Instead, nobody at Baylor seems eager to admit or publicly apologize for anything.
Baylor just wants to turn the page, when it wouldn’t even clean its own sideline.