Mac Engel

Don’t ignore the real mess at Baylor: Sexual assaults were ignored

Patty Crawford resigned Monday from her full-time position as Baylor’s Title IX coordinator. She was hired in November 2014.
Patty Crawford resigned Monday from her full-time position as Baylor’s Title IX coordinator. She was hired in November 2014. AP

Defying logic and possibly even math, Baylor University continues to one-up itself when it comes to elongating a scandal that it wants to end so badly it continually adds chapters.

Baylor is actually becoming a verb.

One Baylor administrator told me this week, “You cannot imagine what a mess it is here.”

It’s incredible, and despite the school’s prayers, there is no end to this “mess” in sight. And the NCAA has yet to stick its hypocritical nose in said mess yet.

One Baylor source told me the school has hired an expensive law firm from California in an attempt to manage this marketing nightmare, which it is. A call placed to one of Baylor’s admissions officers discovered that those employees are routinely having to answer questions about this issue from concerned prospective parents.

Baylor hired a PR firm a few years ago when the school was campaigning to be included in the first College Football Playoff. The Bears didn’t make it.

That was funny. This is not.

Baylor already has a public relations staff, and some of whom are good at their jobs, only they were neutered by a board that can’t agree on the direction of the next sunrise.

Not that we should require a reminder, but as evidenced by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s verbal gaffe where he admitted to groping women, the core of this crisis is eagerly dismissed.

What is lost in this Baylor branding ordeal is that the subject is not about a football team, a winning football coach, or a piece of legislation that is now used like a light saber — Title IX — but at its core, the 1950s attitude toward women that is still far too prevalent.

It’s trite, but it’s true — we’ve all got a momma somewhere.

Last week, former Baylor Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford abruptly resigned when she and her employer could not come to an agreement on a buyout.

She then went to CBS to air her side. She said the school wanted her out because she did her job too well.

This is what happened: A school that is publicly in denial about the existence of premarital sex, not to mention rape charges and violations of Title IX, had to hire a person who took the job seriously. .

(There are reports out of Waco TV station KWTX that the investigation was flawed as the two investigators did not talk to key people. That would be consistent with how this story has evolved.)

When Crawford took her job seriously, and came forward with incidents that she felt required investigating, the (male) school administrators eventually tired of it and told her to shut up.

This week to CBS, she threw her former bosses under the bus and said they could not buy her silence, when, in fact, they could had they just offered a few more dollars. Baylor said she wanted $1 million and book and film rights. (Some reports said Baylor offered $1.5 million, and she wanted $2 million.)

Her attorney called those allegations “a desperate attempt to smear Patty.” Still, this is where her credibility is severely undermined because, as we all know, most of us have a price.

KWTX also reported that former Briles’ recruit Jeremy Faulk was kicked off the team because of a past Title IX incident at a previous school, which when investigated was not too serious. Faulk has said he was also questioned about an alleged sexual assault on the Baylor campus in April, ESPN reported. He denies sexually assaulting anyone. He said he hasn’t been questioned by police, according to reports.

Baylor just wanted him gone, offered no due process; the school wanted him out because of his part in a previous Title IX incident.

Can’t blame them. His scholarship has since been reinstated but he’s not playing.

All of these examples have done nothing but embolden the legion of Briles supporters who believe he was railroaded by his superiors. That ultimately it was the board that was responsible; that once he was aware of a problem, he kicked it to a different department, which did nothing.

Everybody has a role in this mess. Some get fired. Some don’t. Some receive million-dollar settlements. Others don’t.

Briles’ defenders insist this scandal was not just a football program issue, but the whole school. That’s true.

Here is the problem — the most effective marketing tool of the university was the football team; when Briles and the team created positive publicity, donations and applications poured in.

When Briles had relationships with so many players accused of rape, it created negative publicity and a nightmare for the school.

The wand of free publicity cuts both ways.

It bears repeating that there was no way Baylor could retain a coach who brought in so many players who were accused of so many rapes. It damages the brand of a private, religious school that is trying to sell education and safety to prospective students and their paying parents.

Because lost in all of this talk about arrogant board members and railroaded football coaches are women who were actually raped, ignored and belittled. If you insist that a few of the women wrongly accused their attackers, because that tragically does happen, it does not change the fact rapes were committed and were ignored.

Rapes. Plural.

It is one of the most violent verbs in the English language. It should make everybody stop. In the case of a winning football team, or a school that wants to pretend out of wedlock sex does not happen, rape was too often brushed off like an incorrect false start.

But here we are, and Baylor continues to deal with this in a way that apparently requires an expensive California PR firm to clean up.

The first thing the PR firm must do is tell the school that its female customers are just as important as a football team.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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