Baylor University’s then-President Kenneth Starr, left, and head coach Art Briles share a laugh on the first day of football practice at the Waco, Tex., school in August 2014. (Rod Aydelotte/Associated Press)
By Editorial Board,
COLLEGE FOOTBALL coaches generally know that as long as their teams win, bringing acclaim and money to their school, their high-paying jobs will be secure. So it was refreshing to see Baylor University live up to the principles it is supposed to teach and fire its successful coach for his part in the scandalous handling of sexual assault cases involving football players. The action by the university’s Board of Regents, which also demoted president Kenneth W. Starr, should send a message to other schools that expectations are finally changing and sexual abusers will be held to account.
“We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus,” said Richard Willis, chair of the Board of Regents, in a news release Thursday announcing the dismissal of football coach Art Briles and the demotion of Mr. Starr, the former special prosecutor who pursued the sexual wrongdoing of President Bill Clinton. Mr. Starr will be stripped of the title of president but remain as chancellor of the Texas institution.
The board, which also placed the school’s athletic director on probation, acted on the basis of damning conclusions from an outside law firm called in to investigate last fall. A 13-page report from Pepper Hamilton revealed a culture in which officials looked the other way at reports of sexual violence by football players. Victims were treated with indifference, even hostility, with efforts made to conceal sexual assaults and intimidate victims.
Baylor, with 16,000 students, is the world’s largest Baptist university, which makes the revelations all the more sobering. And while the university gets credit for its actions last week, it can’t escape its own culpability for letting Mr. Briles operate with impunity for so long. Inaction allowed more women to become victims, damage that can’t be undone no matter how many people are fired.
Read more on this topic: Cleta Mitchell and Trent Lott: Rethinking how we deal with campus sexual assault Kirsten Gillibrand: The Pentagon deliberately misled Congress on sex assault cases. Do lawmakers care? Laura Stepp: Alchohol and sex: the culture that absorbs today’s girls George F. Will: Colleges become the victims of progressivism