Mac Engel

Exclusive: Art Briles gets another coaching job, says he feels betrayed by Baylor

Former Baylor football coach Art Briles was hired as coach for the Guelfi Firenze American Football team in Florence, Italy, on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. He was the Baylor coach from 2008 to 2015, when he was fired by the school.
Former Baylor football coach Art Briles was hired as coach for the Guelfi Firenze American Football team in Florence, Italy, on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. He was the Baylor coach from 2008 to 2015, when he was fired by the school. AP

Art Briles has agreed to become the coach of an American football team in Italy and says he still has not been given a definitive reason why he was fired by Baylor University.

Guelfi Firenze American Football team, located in Florence, Italy, has hired Briles to coach its adult league team beginning in the fall. The move will be announced later today.

More than two years have passed since Baylor fired Briles, and shortly after agreeing to become a head coach in Italy, he spoke briefly about his time in Waco and specifically what he would have done differently.

“I would have done more if I had known more,” Briles said in a phone interview. “When these allegations came out, we found out at the same time you did. I had a meeting with the (Baylor) Board of Regents where I made suggestions that I never had the chance to fulfill; it would have been similar in the NFL that handles the discipline problems that took it out of the football coaches’ hands.”

Briles was the head coach at Baylor when the school was enveloped by a rape scandal, which included dozens of complaints of alleged sexual assault by members of the football team.

“Hindsight is a blessing and a curse. I’ve always been about trying to be fair and honest with everyone I came into contact with,” Briles said. “The thing that hurts me as much as anything [was] the culture at Baylor at the time; I don’t think victims, I know they didn’t feel comfortable going to report assaults that took place. I don’t think they were represented and taken care of with the level that needed to be handled with. That’s something that through all of this and as time goes will become more clear.

“Not only me but many of us felt betrayed because we were not privy to the information that was available in a way we wanted to respond. ... With the way things are going, with some of the transparency starting to take place, I am confident the truth will come out. It’s not just important for me.”

He said he will go into greater detail regarding his tenure at Baylor at a later date.

He has accepted his second job since he was dismissed in May 2016. And unlike when a Canadian Football League team hired and fired him in one day last year, this job figures to stick.

The two sides have been talking for about three weeks and came to an agreement within the last 24 hours.

The American football league’s season in Europe does not begin until March, and Briles said he will not go to Italy until October. The contract, per Briles, is flexible and allows him to return to the U.S. to accept a coaching position if such a scenario happens.

“I’m a football coach and it’s all I’ve ever done and all I’ve ever really had a passion to do; this gives me a chance to be on the field and between the lines,” Briles said. “(This is) a situation where I can build a team over there and it’s inspiring to me. ... It’s a situation where I can stay active this fall as a coach and as a person be involved in the game. Who knows what the future holds? It’s a golden opportunity for me to get on the field and be involved. I’m jacked about it.”

Briles said his discussions with the Italian team did not delve too much, or at all, into his time at Baylor.

Meanwhile, members of his staff, nearly all of whom left Baylor after the 2016 season, were all vetted aggressively by their next employers. When his son, Kendal Briles, joined Houston’s staff in 2018, he was aggressively researched before head coach Major Applewhite was allowed to hire him.

Art Briles has spoken three different times to the media since he was fired and has not gone into great detail about his tenure at Baylor.

“I’m not sure I was not fired for Baylor’s PR purposes,” he said. “I can’t explain why they would give me a substantial amount of money or pay out a lot of other employees. And I understand contracts. People can make their own decisions.”

Per IRS records, Briles received nearly $18 million when he left Baylor. The school’s chief counselor, Christopher Holmes, also wrote a letter on behalf of Baylor for Briles that essentially exonerated him from the school’s rape scandal that shadowed the university for well over a year.

As more facts regarding the case continue to come out, a few things are apparent: The problem of handling sexual assault at Baylor was a university-wide issue, and the school leaned on the football program as the main offenders; regardless of any new information, most people have made up their minds about Briles, his staff and anyone associated with the program as, at least, some distant relative of Satan himself.

Briles always figured he would coach again; it just took him far longer than he anticipated, and over the Atlantic Ocean, to do it.

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