After hearing for months it is incompetent and fired Art Briles without cause, the maligned Baylor board of regents took its first swing back at their former head football coach and his legion of loyal supporters.
With this damaging report from the Wall Street Journal released on Friday, Baylor pretty much killed Briles’ chances of coaching next season and possibly his career. The report stated that 19 members of the football team since 2011 were accused of sexual assault of 17 Baylor students.
Baylor’s mission statement reads: “The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.”
Baylor failed its mission statement by embarrassing lengths.
Even though there remains a deep divide among the (far too many) power brokers who comprise Baylor’s board, there were always enough members who felt like he merited firing. There was always a majority to fire the most popular and lucrative coach in the history of a school that was just dying to win football games.
Briles, his lawyer or his many supporters at school should never have been so actively feisty in their disagreement of the board’s decision. If his goal was to return to coaching, there was a better route than to roast and destroy the people who approved his employment and many raises.
The Briles’ supporters wanted a fight and while some of his points are valid the best move was always to not poke the big bear that had the goods. Once he accepted a multi-million dollar settlement from Baylor, and chose not go to to court, the best move was to be apologetic and vague.
The board had (wrongly) chosen the silent route throughout the rape scandal, and in the process made leaders like Briles and former president Ken Starr look like remorseless morons. As inept as the board’s decision was, it also had the dirt and it never threw any of it until Friday.
The report from the WSJ is so scathing that Briles’ chances of returning as a head coach at a major school are all but dead. The board fired back with a tank; Baylor basically just told Briles - here is our middle finger, and we’re all going down.
The crux of Baylor’s argument is this, as stated to the WSJ by board member, lawyer J. Cary Gray:
“There was a cultural issue there that was putting winning football games above everything else, including our values; we did not have a caring community when it came to these women who reported that they were assaulted. And that is not OK.”
The Journal writes, “Mr. Gray said he has heard many people defend Mr. Briles as a person and coach who ‘just wanted to be in the offensive boardroom drawing up plays.’ That is not the job for the head coach of a college football program. It is a big business. It is a complex organization that involves millions of dollars, and you have got to have an effective CEO in that role.’
That was always the problem to retain Briles. You can’t just be a “ball coach” any more who doesn’t sweat certain details.
However full of contradictions and hypocrisies as Baylor University is, its core values and “sales pitch” to young adults is a private, Christian-valued education where students’ safety is a concern.
To retain Briles would have been to have it both ways, and to the majority of the board was not the best decision for the school. As a private school Baylor is a business, and to keep Briles would have hurt the marketing of the Baylor brand and the school’s image.
Baylor could have kept quiet and just continued to ride this out, but the members who comprise the board are human, too. Eventually, after enough criticism was pointed at them, a member or two was going to be human and open up on Briles and the scandal that has damaged that school in ways the school can’t fully tabulate.
A few members of the Baylor board firing back was inevitable and this report just ended Art Briles’ coaching career.