Baylor University regents voted unanimously against another investigation into the school’s sexual assault scandal on Sunday, which influential Baylor donors called for last week.
All voting members of Baylor’s board of regents agreed on the thoroughness and fairness of Pepper Hamilton LLP’s nine-month investigation, according to a Monday university release.
A special committee of regents, appointed in October, reviewed “methodology, scope of work and findings” of the investigation.
“After receiving the committee’s review and analysis, the Board found no facts to support concerns raised and concluded that the Pepper Hamilton investigation was comprehensive, unbiased and professional,” the statement said. “The board voted unanimously against engaging another firm to review the investigation.”
In May, regents reported “fundamental failure” in Baylor’s Title IX implementation and a football program “operating above the rules.” Ken Starr was removed as president and Art Briles as head football coach. Athletic Director Ian McCaw was sanctioned and placed on probation but later resigned. McCaw has since been hired to the same role at Liberty University.
Board Vice Chairman Joel Allison and Regents Dan Chapman, Jerry Clements and J. Cary Gray sat on that committee.
“Our review found no reasonable grounds to question Pepper Hamilton’s investigation or the board’s decisions that were made in reliance on their report to us. Our conclusion was that the law firm had been complete, fair and accurate,” Clements said in a statement. “If anything, our second look at the law firm’s investigation only strengthened the board’s conclusion that Pepper Hamilton did a thorough and professional job in fulfilling its agreed-upon scope of work.”
A group of donors dubbed “Bears for Leadership Reform” last week called for an independent investigation that would focus on the actions of regents and administrators.
Prominent BLR member John Eddie Williams, after whom the football field at McLane Stadium and law school library are named, said the investigation should look into lack of Title IX implementation, real or perceived conflicts of interests on the board and regents’ personnel decisions.
Williams said the group is “extremely disappointed” by the board’s Monday announcement.
“For months, Baylor regents have stonewalled and deflected blame, ignoring the voices of thousands of members of the Baylor family who seek the truth about this unconscionable scandal,” Williams said in a statement. “Today’s decision by the Board only reinforces BLR’s belief that this scandal is the result of a failure of culture that has its roots in a failure of leadership.”
Shortly after the Baylor statement was posted online, the Bears for Leadership Reform group scheduled a press conference for Tuesday morning in Waco, where boosters will discuss “a new analysis” showing that the scandal could cost Baylor hundreds of millions of dollars.
Williams has said he knows of others who have withheld donations because of the scandal, including one person who removed a $25 million donation to the school from his will. Williams said he personally is “wrestling” with financial commitments he has already made to Baylor.
At the Sunday meeting, regents were updated on the federal Title IX investigation that began at Baylor in October, the university statement said.
The investigation was launched by a complaint former Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford made to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights upon her resignation.
The board also affirmed Baylor’s commitments to improve based on the one-year warning handed down by the school’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Baylor must display compliance in student support services, control of intercollegiate athletics and institutional environment.