Art Briles is no longer the coach of the Baylor Bears football program. The architect of BU's turnaround was let go by the university today, citing Briles's handling of player-related domestic violence and sexual assault issues, and the resulting scandal that's still yet to conclude. The third-party report on the extent of issues under Briles's watch is now out, if you choose to read. It's a pretty disgusting collection of willful ignorance by the football program from 2012-2015.
As you well know, Syracuse Orange head coach Dino Babers was an assistant under Briles at Baylor just before that time frame, from 2008-2011 (though that time period has been called into question as well). So of course, this happened:
First, wow. Second, already have a "Dino Babers to Baylor?" email in my inbox. Not joking. https://t.co/uGUwvuE3sf— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) May 26, 2016
And it's continued on Twitter since. I wondered it for a brief second this morning, admittedly, but the pieces don't add up. How so?
- If Baylor was appalled enough by the Pepper Hamilton report that they wanted a clean break from Briles, why would they want to hire someone from his coaching tree to run the program after him? Even though Babers wasn't there for these cases (at least according to report), there's little benefit to keeping that perception link alive.
- Oddly, however, they are keeping that link alive by leaving the rest of the staff intact. In this case, however, the move appears to be more for current players. Poor decision on their part, but also means they're not bringing in outside faces... at least right now.
- Babers has a buyout with Syracuse (details not available since they're a private school). Baylor has more money and larger boosters, but not so much that they can deal with paying the buyout, plus increased salary, plus hiring a new president and athletic director all at the same time.
- Babers would be taking on a significantly more difficult situation than the one he currently deals with at Syracuse. He's on the AD search committee, which means he's a key part of the solution going forward. Baylor is in a state of turmoil, with a demand to balance expectations and right the program's moral compass.
- Babers wouldn't want to add the mess at Baylor to his resume when the report currently says he wasn't involved. Why, especially at this point in his career, would he willingly draw that line to a bad stretch of time at Baylor in terms of protecting women against violent acts?
What's occurred at Baylor is appalling, and the university's actions to hold Briles accountable for them make sense, even if the school has largely left the rest of the power structure that allowed these things to happen in place... which decidedly does not make sense. Considering Babers and his connection to Baylor is not the headline today, even if it is in this post. Baylor has moved on from Art Briles because he was willfully failing to protect female students and other women at the school. The Pepper Hamilton report cites various laws that oblige him to do so, but even without them, I'd think being a decent human being probably obliges you the most, no?
No matter what happens next at Baylor, the hope is that those in power -- be they holdovers from this regime or new faces -- do their duty to other human beings. Protect the women on your campus. Teach the young men on your team the difference between right and wrong. Don't create a culture that allows for violence perpetrated by members of your team. And that's not just the hope for Baylor. It's any school and any team. Hopefully this was a wake-up call to anyone involved with college athletics. Those people shouldn't need something like this to to remind them of what's important. But if they did, for some reason, hopefully it prevents situations like Baylor's repeating themselves.