Mac Engel

Baylor’s internal investigation needs an independent counsel

Baylor coach Art Briles has been under scrutiny in the Sam Ukwuachu  sexual assault case.
Baylor coach Art Briles has been under scrutiny in the Sam Ukwuachu sexual assault case. AP

Where is a blue dress when you really need one?

Unfortunately for Baylor, the best man to dig up dirt is its own president, Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton and the Whitewater controversy and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Baylor has a serious credibility problem. If Ken Starr, coach Art Briles and athletic director Ian McCaw want to try to restore their damaged reputations over the Sam Ukwuachu fiasco, Baylor University needs find someone other than Baylor University to investigate the Baylor University football program.

The decision Friday to launch its own internal investigation into Ukwuachu’s arrival and departure is a bad decision by leadership that failed its own green-and-gold kid. A Baylor girl was raped, yet the priority is Baylor football.

As it stands, Baylor’s announced internal investigation into the botched handling of the Ukwuachu case should just be labeled “Operation Patsy.”

This is akin to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell investigating the New England Patriots, ruling on the New England Patriots and handling the appeal on the New England Patriots.

The man in charge of this investigation is Baylor law professor Jeremy Counseller, who is a former assistant district attorney and Baylor’s faculty athletic representative to the NCAA. He will draw up a report and deliver it to Starr.

Replace Counseller with a person who went to a Chicago law school, or something outside of Texas, with no rooting interest in sports.

Ironically, if Baylor wants to know how a kid could be indicted of rape and remain on scholarship, Starr is the guy with the track record to do it.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find the answers. Everybody who knew — and they knew — is down the street from Starr’s office. Or he sees them at his favorite Starbucks.

This is why Starr, Counseller or anybody directly associated with Baylor University should not handle a shred of this investigation.

There are so many conflicts of interests that there is no way for Starr or his staff to be impartial. These people are on the same team, and their money comes from the same place. They live in the same community. They frequent the greatness of George’s, Vitek’s, Health Camp and other Waco restaurants and social spots. They all run in the same elite circle in their city. They have all benefited from their relationships.

If Starr is serious, he needs to hire an independent firm that has no association with Baylor University.

Then maybe this investigation will have some merit. If not, this investigation is nothing more than a bear-and-pony show that will be used to exonerate the emperor, and to find someone to fire.

The last thing Starr or anybody at Baylor wants to find is that their emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes on this one.

Starr does not want to know the real truth of a case that looks like just another big-time football team and a slimy coach doing what big-time teams and slimy coaches do.

Starr, nor anybody at Baylor, wants to find anything that could implicate his friend: Briles. What Starr wants us to believe is that Briles did his part, as did McCaw, and that it’s the system that failed more than the individuals in charge.

What no one at Baylor wants to admit is that the culprits are on campus, and it is not former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen. Even if Briles is telling the truth and Petersen did not reveal why Ukwuachu was kicked off his team, the fact that the Baylor coach did not know is either negligent or ignorant. Art Briles is not a dumb man.

A school says a freshman All-American can stay, but the team does not want him? If that didn’t merit research, nothing will.

Boise State and Petersen had nothing to do with Baylor’s deliberate decision to keep Ukwuachu on campus and attending classes after his rape charge. In reviewing the code of conduct as outlined in the Baylor Student Handbook, the charge and the indictment against Ukwuachu warranted dismissal.

Baylor is not responsible for the behavior of and the violence committed by Ukwuachu, but it is in charge of fostering a safe environment for its students. By keeping him on campus, the university failed. An indicted rapist was going to class on scholarship at a school that costs $54,000 a year.

It failed only because he was good at playing football.

Now Starr wants to “get to the bottom of this” when really he does not want to know the answers. The real answers may sicken him and force him to do what no one at Baylor wants to do.

Because of that, an investigation that should be impartial will not be, and a lower-tiered employee will be fired because, on this one, no one wants to see if there is a blue dress.

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

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog

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