NCAA not punishing Baylor for sexual assault allegations

Five years after Baylor's firing of Art Briles, Baylor's football coach, in response to an in-depth review of how the university handled sexual assault allegations against football players, the NCAA ruled Wednesday that neither Briles or the university had violated its rules.The NCAA Committee on Infractions placed Baylor on probation for four years and placed other restrictions on recruiting. The NCAA did not ban the Bears from participating in the postseason and didn't remove any scholarships. Unnamed former assistant director football operations was placed under a show-cause order for five years.The NCAA reported that it could not conclude that Baylor and Briles had violated NCAA rules by failing to report sexual and interpersonal violence on its campus. The NCAA's decision was the latest example of how it has stopped punishing schools for sexual misconduct by athletes. In 2018, the NCAA did not take any action in the case involving Larry Nassar, Michigan State, and its athletics program.The committee stated that Baylor had admitted to moral and ethical shortcomings in the handling of interpersonal and sexual violence on campus, but that these failings did not amount to violations of NCAA rules. This panel agreed to the decision after much reluctance. A different outcome would require that the [committee] ignore the rules adopted by the Association -- rules which the [committee] must adjudicate. This would jeopardize the integrity of the infractions procedure."The committee observed that, while an ex-Baylor president referred to the school's handling sexual violence as a "colossal operation failure", current NCAA rules don't allow the Committee on Infractions (the Committee on Infractions) to penalize schools for such matters.Scott Tompsett, his attorney, stated that Art Briles was exonerated from all NCAA violations. "The NCAA Committee on Infractions explained that the conduct at issue was widespread and pervasive throughout Baylor University, and was either condoned by or ignored the highest levels of Baylor leadership. Today's NCAA decision allows Mr. Briles to resume coaching college football.The NCAA stated that the committee was considering charges in three incidents of "alleged and threatened violence" by footballers. These incidents were not reported by members football staff. Enforcement staff claimed they were illegal benefits.The NCAA released a statement saying that the panel concluded that non-reporting instances did not provide impermissible benefits for football student-athletes. This was due to a campus culture of nonreporting. The school's failure to prioritise Title IX implementation created a culture in which staff and faculty did not understand and/or know their obligations to report sexual and interpersonal violence allegations. The panel was unable to find impermissible benefits because the culture of not reporting did not only include cases involving student athletes.The NCAA enforcement staff sent a notice to Baylor alleging that Briles had failed to foster a culture of compliance by shielding football players from student disciplinary processes and that Briles was involved with appeals of players -- at least one of which reached Kenneth Starr, former president of the university."[T]he panel could not also find that the former football coach failed to foster an atmosphere of compliance, or that Baylor lacked intuitive control. This is mainly because those allegations were specific to the underlying allegations which ultimately did not lead to violations," said the NCAA in a release.Fast eight months elapsed for the Committee on Infractions to issue its ruling. Baylor officials held a virtual hearing on Dec. 15 with members of the committee.Baylor fired Briles in May 2016. They also demoted Starr, and Ian McCaw, the disciplined athletics director, to make way for Starr. McCaw later left Baylor to take the same job at Liberty. Starr resigned later from the university.After the Pepper Hamilton report, which heavily criticised Baylor's handling Title IX complaints, Baylor took the necessary steps. In a 13-page report, the Philadelphia law firm found that Baylor's student behavior processes were "wholly inept to consistently provide prompt and equitable responses under Title IX" and that the University failed to act to eliminate and prevent a hostile environment from recurring or address its effects.According to the report, Baylor administrators discouraged some victims from reporting sexual assaults. In one instance, they even retaliated against the victim.The Pepper Hamilton report revealed "specific failings" in both the football program's leadership and the athletics department. These included a failure to respond to a pattern or sexual violence committed by a football player, and a report of domestic violence. Lawyers raised "significant concerns" about Baylor's football program in relation to student athlete misconduct.The investigation into the football program uncovered text messages that contained information about other alleged offenses by football players. According to a 2017 court filing, three Baylor regents said that the texts revealed that Briles and his assistant coaches actively interfered in the discipline and attempted to arrange legal representation for their football players.Briles asked an assistant coach in 2011 about a player who was cited for illegal alcohol consumption. He replied, "Hopefully they won't recognize his name -- did he receive a ticket from Baylor police? ... I was just trying to keep him from our judicial affairs ...."According to the court filing, a member of football operations tried to convince a victim to drop charges against a player for assault. In a text Briles sent McCaw, he wrote: "Just talked to [the] player -- he said Waco PD had been there -- they said they would keep it quiet -- Wasn’t a set-up deal ...". Briles also wrote that he would get an assistant coach to contact a local lawyer who is known for representing players. Ian McCaw, Athletics Director, replied that it would have been great if they kept the matter quiet.According to the filing, an assistant coach and Briles discussed their attempts to intervene for a player suspended for drug violations multiple times in October 2013. Baylor's football program was also investigated. It was found that Baylor did not properly test its athletes for marijuana, in contradiction to other Division I universities and Big 12 Conference rules. This was contrary to university policy.Briles and his supporters have long claimed that Briles was wrongfully exonerated by Baylor. They cited a 2017 Baylor letter that Briles received that stated that the university "was not aware of any situation in which you had direct contact with someone who was the victim or discouraged that victim from reporting to law enforcement" and that they were "unaware of any student athlete who was found guilty of sexual assault."Interviews with ESPN 2017 and 2016 revealed that Baylor regents felt Briles' handling of the situation was the main reason they fired him. They also saw inability to resolve the issues moving forward and decided that Briles wasn’t the right leader for the school.Baylor's regents claimed that 17 women had reported domestic and sexual assaults on 19 football players between 2011 and 2014. One lawsuit was settled by Baylor. It was filed by a female student who was a former Baylor Bruins hostess. Her lawyers alleged 52 acts by not fewer than 31 footballers between 2011 and 2014.Briles recruited two Baylor football players accused of sexual assault after they were dismissed from previous schools due to off-field issues. After being convicted of sexually assaulting another Baylor soccer player, Sam Ukwuachu was sentenced in August 2015. Briles was criticised for accepting Ukwuachu to be a transfer student, after Chris Petersen, then-Boise State coach, had dismissed him from the team due to off-field problems.At his trial, Ukwuachu’s ex-girlfriend testified that he had choked and struck her while he was at Boise State. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reaffirmed the lower court's decision in November and reinstated Ukwuachu’s 2015 conviction for sexual assault.Shawn Oakman, a former Bears defensive star, was charged with sexual assault in April 2016. According to an arrest warrant, a Baylor graduate student said Oakman had "forced" her to take off her clothes and forced her to his bed. He then sexually assaulted the woman. Oakman, who was the school's most prominent sacks leader, claimed that he had had consensual sexual sex with his victim. In February 2019, a McLennan County jury found Oakman innocent of second-degree sexual assault.Trevon Armstead, Shamycheal chatman and Shamycheal Chatman were both charged with sexual assault in March 2017. This was following a report about gang rapes that occurred in 2013. The cases had been pending for many years without any substantive action. They were finally dismissed in July.Briles, who had a record of 65-37 in eight seasons with Bears and coached his teams to at minimum a share in Big 12 championships in 2013/2014, had eight years left on a 10-year contract extension and was fired. According to federal tax returns from the private school, Briles was awarded a $15.1million settlement and Starr was awarded $4.52 million.Since his firing, Briles, 65, has not coached college football. After spending the 2019 season in Italy coaching professional football, he returned to Texas' Mount Vernon High School. There he spent two seasons before resigning in Dec.