The Big 12 board of directors voted unanimously to withhold 25 percent of future revenue distribution payments to Baylor University, pending the outcome of a third-party verification review of required changes to Baylor’s athletics procedures and to institutional governance of its athletics programs.

Baylor has been embroiled in a sexual assault scandal that led to the removal of Art Briles as football coach and Ken Starr as president and the resignation of athletics director Ian McCaw in May 2016.

Revenue distributions to Big 12 schools will be announced in early June at the conference’s spring meetings, but each school is expected to receive more than $30 million. About $10 million already has been distributed to each school, leaving Baylor’s remaining quarterly share that could be withheld by the Big 12 at about $5.5 million, according to an athletics department official.

Big 12 revenue distribution makes up less than a third of Baylor’s annual athletic department budget, which is expected to exceed $100 million. Other revenue sources include donations through the Baylor Bear Foundation, ticket sales, licensing, merchandising and concessions, the official said.

Baylor would have the opportunity to recoup any withheld revenue if it satisfies the Big 12 board members at the conclusion of the review. Baylor was not included in the Big 12 board vote.

“The board is unified in establishing a process to verify that proper institutional controls are in place and sustainable,” said David Boren, Big 12 board of directors chairman and University of Oklahoma president. “Effective immediately, the conference is withholding 25 percent of Baylor’s share of any future revenue distribution until the proper execution of controls is independently verified.

“By taking these actions, the board desires to ensure that the changes that were promised are actually made and that systems are in place to avoid future problems. The proportional withholding of revenue distribution payments will be in effect until the board has determined that Baylor is in compliance with conference bylaws and regulations as well as all components of Title IX.”

Deepening scandal

The Big 12’s announcement came after several stories about Baylor’s deepening scandal appeared last week, including one that revealed text messages by Briles and other high-level officials in the athletics department repeatedly attempted to keep players accused of crimes out of the public eye and the university’s judicial system.

Baylor interim President David Garland issued a response to the Big 12’s announcement, saying the university is taking corrective actions to the sexual assault issues.

“Upon learning the scope and scale of the troubling incidents that occurred within our campus community through an independent investigation, Baylor University took unprecedented corrective actions that led to leadership changes within the university administration and athletic department and 105 recommendations to strengthen the safety and security of our students. No other university in the country has responded as aggressively and decisively as Baylor regarding incidents of sexual assaults on its campus.”

Baylor replaced McCaw with Athletics Director Mack Rhoades last summer and hired Matt Rhule as football coach in December.

Garland said he welcomes the Big 12’s actions.

“Under the university’s new leadership, Baylor has demonstrated a firm commitment to athletics compliance and integrity, increased awareness and prevention of sexual assault, implementation of Title IX best practices and providing comprehensive support services for any student in need of them,” he said in the statement.

“Baylor already had planned to hire an outside auditor to audit the implementation of our enhanced practices, and we welcome the Big 12 Conference’s request of an independent review. While the withholding of conference distributions is an unexpected financial event, we do not deem these actions to materially impact the overall financial position of the university. We pledge our full cooperation, and we will work with the Big 12 Conference to conduct the audit as expeditiously as possible.

“This third-party review at the request of the Big 12 Conference will provide an opportunity for us to demonstrate our progress to date and our ongoing commitment in establishing Baylor as a leading institution in athletics compliance and governance and for preventing and addressing sexual assaults on college campuses.”

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