Baylor University’s sexual assault scandal could cost the school at least $223 million, according to “Bears for Leadership Reform,” a group of the school’s notable donors.
Jared Jordan, managing director of Austin law firm HSSK LLC, presented a financial analysis of the costs at a Tuesday press conference attended by Houston lawyer and prominent Baylor donor John Eddie Williams. The analysis is based on audits, IRS Form 990s, Equity in Athletics Data Analysis, media reports, information from the child sexual abuse investigation at Pennsylvania State University, information related to settlements with sexual assault victims at other universities and information provided by the reform group, Jordan said.
The BLR group has been vocal in its calls for transparency, accountability and reform among Baylor’s board of regents.
“We sit here today with little transparency, no accountability, and it’s time for us to find out the true facts,” Williams said.
According to Jordan’s report, Baylor has spent or will spend almost $33 million in legal, consulting and public relations costs, $30 million in fines and sanctions and more than $24 million in settlements with former employees. Other costs of sexual assault investigations, victim settlements, hiring of interim and new employees and Title IX compliance costs bring the total costs to $121.7 million.
He also projects $101.3 million in lost private contributions until 2019.
Bears for Leadership Reform paid for the analysis, Williams said.
“Beyond confirming Baylor University is and will continue to be strong and financially healthy, we will not respond to such speculation with any further comment,” the university said in a statement, which a Baylor spokeswoman said was also on behalf of board Chairman Ron Murff. Murff did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
Williams, along with former Texas Gov. Mark White and former Regent Randy Ferguson, met with three current regents last week in Dallas. The three requested an independent investigation of the board’s actions amid a sexual assault scandal that saw the removal of Ken Starr as president, Art Briles as head football coach and Ian McCaw’s resignation as athletics director. McCaw was recently hired as athletics director at Liberty University.
Regents on Monday announced a unanimous vote against an additional investigation — BLR leaders had asked for an inquest into the board’s actions leading up to and during the sexual assault crisis — and a reaffirmation of the review by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP.
Board Vice Chairman Joel Allison and regents J. Cary Gray and Jerry Clements attended the Dec. 5 meeting in which Williams and other BLR leaders requested the investigation of the board.
Williams emailed the regents the next day, thanking them for their time and reiterating his belief that there is a “cloud over Baylor’s good name.”
“We disagree with Regent Gray’s statement that ‘this conversation borders on the ridiculous.’ To the contrary, we feel that open communication is helpful,” Williams wrote in the email, obtained by the Tribune-Herald.
Allison responded, also thanking Williams and saying the board needs “ample time” to discuss Williams’ request and other input received from listening sessions.
Allison emailed Williams again Monday, relaying the news that the board voted unanimously against an additional investigation. He said the Board Governance Task Force will present to the board at its February meeting, according to the email.
Gray did not respond to request for comment. Gray is one of three regents, along with Murff and David Harper, named in a lawsuit filed by Briles last week. Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Reagan Ramsower is also named as a defendant.
Briles is alleging libel, slander and conspiracy against the four.
“A lawsuit is a funny thing because they eventually will be taking depositions and people will have to be telling things and events under oath,” Williams said at Tuesday’s press conference. “So I see it as a positive step towards getting all the facts out. Again, the focus is not on Coach Briles or football or athletics. The focus is on our leadership, our board, our leaders in administration. Why did they fail to implement Title IX? Why did we get into this situation?”
Williams said he hears from Baylor supporters daily who are struggling with the decision of whether to continue giving money to the university. Williams himself has said he is “wrestling” with financial commitments he has made to Baylor. His name adorns the football field at Baylor’s McLane Stadium and the Baylor Law School library.
“I promise you I will honor my commitment,” he said. “The timing, to me, is what I’m struggling with. Part of it is due this December, and I still struggle with what I should do. I’m contemplating perhaps putting it in a bank account here in Waco until we have some transparency, accountability and reform.”
Baylor’s estimated costs regarding scandal
|Estimated Costs (in millions)||Past||Future||Total|
|Settlements/Agreements with Key Former Employees||$22.5||$2.1||$24.6|
|Sexual Assault Investigation Costs||$5.0||0.0||$5.0|
|Legal/Consulting and Public Relations Costs||$13.1||$19.8||$32.9|
|Hiring of Interim/New Employees||$0.2||$0.5||$0.7|
|Title IX/Compliance Improvement Costs||$1.3||$10.2||$11.5|
|Total Estimated Costs||$44.1||$77.6||$121.7*|
|*Does not include estimated loss in donations|
|Source: HSSK, LLC|