Mac Engel

This letter from an ex-Baylor coach defends Art Briles as a 'good and faithful man'

Former Baylor coach Art Briles, who was fired in May 2016, received two letters that supported his actions as it related to the rape scandal: One was from Baylor, and the other from the former Baylor volleyball coach who said Briles' behavior was upstanding as it related to one particular allegation by a volleyball player against Baylor football players.
Former Baylor coach Art Briles, who was fired in May 2016, received two letters that supported his actions as it related to the rape scandal: One was from Baylor, and the other from the former Baylor volleyball coach who said Briles' behavior was upstanding as it related to one particular allegation by a volleyball player against Baylor football players. AP

Whenever ESPN finally produces a "30 for 30" documentary on the rape scandal at Baylor University that halted Art Briles' coaching career, it will most assuredly include the following letter.

A letter written by former Baylor volleyball coach Jim Barnes on behalf of Briles in the summer of 2017 has been sent to NCAA investigators. It shows how Briles handled at least one particular rape allegation and how he acted with concern for the victim.

In the letter Barnes writes: "At no time did Coach Briles try to cover this up in any way. We both did what we were told to do in this situation and that was report it to the Athletic Director."

Take a look at old photographs from TCU's days in Waco. The university moved to Waco from Thorp Spring in 1895, before moving back to Fort Worth and establishing its current campus in 1910.

This is the first piece of on-the-record evidence from a Baylor staffer outside of the football program to specifically cite examples that Briles made a victim a priority.

There was always another side to so many of the things that Baylor claimed after it fired Briles in May 2016.

One side is ex-Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw's deposition taken last week and partially released on Wednesday.

Barnes' letter, obtained by the Star-Telegram, was made available in conjunction with a note that Baylor authored last summer saying Briles was not in the wrong. The separate letters were made available for the Canadian Football League team that hired Briles last August. But facing intense public criticism, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats released Briles after one day.

The letter from Barnes is more evidence for Briles supporters who believe he was wrongly scapegoated by the university when it fired him in May 2016. At a minimum, it demonstrates just how badly the school botched this process from the beginning, including the expensive Title IX investigation by the Philadelphia law firm of Pepper Hamilton.

On Feb. 11, 2012, a Baylor volleyball player said she was gang raped by as many as eight football players. In a lawsuit filed in May 2017, she said she was also harassed by football players after the incident.

Barnes tells the rest in his letter:

"Below is my truthful statement in regards to the rape accusation that occurred in 2012 involving my former volleyball player. Here are the facts:

"I was informed by her in late April 2013. I took the information to the Athletic Director. I asked what could be done. He gave me the phone number to Judicial Affairs to give to the victim. I then met with Coach Briles and informed him.'"

Barnes writes that he asked the victim and her parents to meet with Baylor's judicial affairs department. They declined. Despite pleading with her to file a report, she declined and left the school.

He also said he immediately met with Briles, who "responded with concern for my player and said she should prosecute."

By that point, Barnes said four of the accused players had already been removed from the team.

He also met with Pepper Hamilton investigators in May 2016, shortly before Briles was fired, for a four-hour interview. They praised him, and he writes that he does not believe the investigators accurately described their meeting to the Baylor Board of Regents.

Barnes cites a lack of training, and writes that there was "no Title IX office" established.

"I was told by the AD there was nothing else that could be done since she did not want to report the rape that happened approx' a year prior," he writes.

He finished the letter by writing, "Because there is so much wrong information out there and Coach Briles has been accused of a cover-up, my player has fully endorsed me to make a statement. In fact she said Art Briles was a good and faithful man. She appreciated his support and she was very thankful that he kept her name out of this as well."

Barnes coached at Baylor from 2004 to 2014. After two straight losing seasons, he was fired by McCaw on Dec. 2, 2014. He was hired by Tulane in December 2015, where he is the head coach of the volleyball program.

He did not respond to a request for this column.

Not sure what else he could have said when his letter already said so much.

At Big 12 media days, acting Baylor football coach Jim Grobe admits his job is daunting in replacing Art Briles (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).



Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

  Comments