Gil LeBreton

By wearing black, Baylor sends its misguided message

Baylor players will wear black uniforms Saturday against TCU, a move that they say supports their fired former head coach Art Briles. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Baylor players will wear black uniforms Saturday against TCU, a move that they say supports their fired former head coach Art Briles. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) AP

The Baylor football team – and probably most of the Bears fans in attendance – will wear black Saturday for their game against TCU.

They will stand united. United against, I suppose, 60 Minutes. United against Patty Crawford. United against the rogue regents who won’t toe the company line.

United against everyone who blames Art Briles.

With their black uniforms and their T-shirts with #CAB (for Briles), Baylor will be making a statement.

The problem is, the rest of the nation doesn’t care to hear it, because we don’t believe Baylor. We don’t believe it any further than we could dropkick Art Briles.

Baylor has itself to blame for that. Its conspiracy of silence spoke volumes.

As the chairman of the Baylor Board of Regents confirmed on the 60 Minutes report this week, 17 female students were either sexually or domestically assaulted by 19 football players over the past five years.

But in their unending mission to discredit, deny and deflect the blame, the Baylor people have confused the point.

These weren’t just clerical or procedural errors, as Baylor officials seem to want the public to believe. Somebody recruited and brought 19 sexual predators on campus, and then a football-crazed culture did whatever it could to protect those players, in most cases while turning a deaf ear to the victims.

If you wear black Saturday, you back the rapists and the rape-enablers, not the victims.

That’s what the rest of the nation, watching on TV, will be thinking when it watches Saturday afternoon. Yes, it will.

The 60 Minutes report on Showtime was notable in that it shined a light on the story of Crawford, Baylor’s recently resigned Title IX coordinator. She came across as both candid and credible – highly believable, especially when compared to her former boss Reagan Ramsower’s stammering self.

Ramsower is a Baylor senior vice-president in charge of, among many things, the school’s police department. How Ramsower was allegedly unable to obtain the victims’ police reports, including the ones from Waco city police, in a timely manner remains one of the scandal’s great mysteries.

The missing reports are the smoking gun in the Baylor case, and fingerprints are everywhere. As the 60 Minutes report showed, victims who were directed to the campus counseling office were asked what they were wearing when the attacks occurred, and how much had they been drinking.

One of the early victims who went public told how a Baylor official informed her that her story was useless, because it was her word against the player’s. The campus and city police reportedly did the same thing.

Ramsower, according to Crawford, tried to dismiss the claims of one of the assault victims by saying she was "mentally ill." As Crawford explained, the victim was actually feeling suicidal because of the trauma that had followed her case.

After the 60 Minutes episode aired, Baylor took to its own web site to attack Crawford.

Why should we believe Patty Crawford? Because Baylor tried to buy her silence and she refused.

Baylor’s rapid ascension into college football’s upper ranks had to be exhilarating for students, alumni and donors. The new $266 million stadium is testament of that.

But along the way, didn’t somebody think to ask, "Where are we getting all these guys?"

A football team is a close-knit family, living together, playing together and, yes, partying together. A coaching staff tends to be even closer, spending 12-15 hours a day together at work.

It is beyond belief that 17 assaults involving 19 Baylor football players could have taken place without considerable chatter amongst the coaching staff.

The whole coaching staff should have been fired before the season began, because these were the ones who recruited those 19 players. They helped bring these criminals to the Baylor campus.

Instead, now we see things like the statement posted Friday by the assistant coaches, led by Briles’ son Kendal, trying to weave another confusing alibi about what the head coach knew and when.

We see the same assistants, letting the team wear black.

That blackness will make a profound statement Saturday. And people will be sitting at home, watching on TV around the country, and they will be thinking the same thing:

Baylor still doesn’t get it.

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