McCaw Briles RA

Liberty University hired Ian McCaw (left) as athletics director in November, months after he resigned from Baylor amid a sexual assault scandal and head football coach Art Briles (right) was fired. Liberty defended its hire Friday after a court filing by Baylor regents offered details of a football program operating “above the rules” during McCaw’s time as Baylor athletics director.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte, file

Ian McCaw, who resigned in late May as Baylor University’s athletics director, was implicated by three Baylor regents in a Thursday court filing that calls the football program McCaw oversaw a “black hole” where reports of physical and sexual violence and other crimes by players disappeared.

Liberty University, McCaw’s new employer, went to bat for him Friday by releasing two statements through McCaw’s lawyer that point to Baylor’s lack of Title IX and disciplinary policies and procedures while McCaw was running the athletics department.

The court filing in the 116th State District Court in Dallas County came in response to another former Baylor athletics staffer’s lawsuit. The filing says McCaw did not report an alleged 2012 gang rape involving football players.

“Mr. McCaw was faced with a complex situation wherein he desired to honor the wishes of the alleged victim, who was unwilling to speak to the police according to her coach, and a request from her coach for guidance as to where he should go with information he had obtained in 2013 about this incident,” McCaw’s attorney Tom Brandt said in the statement Liberty released.

“Mr. McCaw responsibly directed the head coach to the Office of Judicial Affairs, which handles student conduct matters, and was the appropriate venue to take such an allegation.”

The statement does not address an alleged 2013 text McCaw sent to Briles, in which he says it “would be great” if Waco police keep quiet about a player’s arrest on an assault charge after being accused of threatening to kill a student.

The statement includes quotes from Baylor regent Jay Allison and former head football coach Grant Teaff in support of McCaw.

Emails released

Hours after releasing the initial statement, Liberty sent an updated statement with transcripts of two more emails unnamed Baylor regents sent to Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. after McCaw was hired as athletics director in November.

“He is a trustworthy man who will do the right thing,” one of the emails states. “In my opinion, his circumstance was very different from the others who were affected by this tragedy. My personal view is that the Lord has moved Ian from Baylor to Liberty through this sad chapter in Baylor’s history.”

Both regents congratulate Falwell for hiring McCaw and say McCaw is a committed Christian and leader.

“If you look at the improvement, it not only was in all sports on the field but includes the academic record of students, the quality of coaches hired and the facilities built under his direction,” the other email states. “In my opinion, one of the keys to Ian’s success is he is a dedicated Christian and he recognized the importance of hiring Christian coaches that would be aligned with the mission of our university.”

In Thursday’s filing, regents say the board voted 26-4 to recommend seeking McCaw’s resignation but ultimately sanctioned him and placed him on probation after McCaw tearfully acknowledged mistakes and presented a five-point improvement plan for sexual violence prevention and response. McCaw resigned days later.

Baylor regents Chairman Ron Murff and regents J. Cary Gray and David Harper filed the response to a libel lawsuit by Colin Shillinglaw, who regents fired in May. Also listed as defendants in the suit are the university itself, regent Dennis Wiles, interim President David Garland, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Reagan Ramsower, and Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Pepper Hamilton presented to the board in May after an investigation into how the school handled allegations of sexual violence. In a 13-page findings of fact document, regents reported a “fundamental failure” in Title IX implementation and a football program operating “above the rules.”

Art Briles was fired as head football coach, and Ken Starr was removed as president. Shillinglaw and Tom Hill, an associate athletics director, were also removed.

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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