Ian McCaw

Ian McCaw resigned as Baylor’s athletics director on Monday, effective immediately, as the school is mired in a sexual assault scandal that has involved several Baylor athletes.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte, file

Baylor University Athletics Director Ian McCaw resigned Monday amid a sexual assault scandal that has rocked the university and led to sweeping changes in the school’s administration and athletics department.

“After much reflection and prayer, I have decided that a change in athletics department leadership is in Baylor University’s best interest in order to promote the unity, healing and restoration that must occur in order to move forward,” McCaw said in a statement. “I have always sought to put the university’s needs ahead of my own. My time at Baylor has been an incredible journey filled with some of the most remarkable people I have ever known. I am grateful to Baylor Nation for its support and dedication, and to all who have done so much to advance the athletics program.”

McCaw steps down days after Art Briles was fired as head football coach pending contractual details being worked out, and hours after he announced former Wake Forest University coach Jim Grobe as Baylor’s interim head coach. McCaw’s resignation is effective immediately.

Along with Briles’ termination Thursday, the school announced it is removing Ken Starr from the presidency, though he is remaining with Baylor as chancellor and as a tenured professor at Baylor Law School.

Baylor regents have repeatedly declined to offer reasons why they found enough cause to remove Starr as president, but are allowing him to remain as chancellor, other than to say that his chancellor duties are external to the university and focused on “religious liberty.”

Pepper Hamilton LLP, a Philadelphia-based law firm hired by Baylor in September to investigate how the university handles sexual assault allegations, found a “fundamental failure” to enforce federal laws, including Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act. The nine-month inquiry led to the terminations and resignations last week and Monday.

A summary of the report released by Baylor’s board of regents said Baylor “failed to maintain effective oversight and supervision of the Athletics Department as it related to the effective implementation of Title IX.”

In a statement Monday following McCaw’s resignation, Baylor’s regents said, “We understand and accept this difficult decision by Ian McCaw to resign as athletic director and are grateful for his service to Baylor University. We also appreciate Ian’s commitment and involvement in bringing a person of integrity such as Jim Grobe to the university before making this decision.”

After serving as athletics director at Northeastern University from 1997 to 2002 and the University of Massachusetts from 2002-03, McCaw took over as Baylor’s AD on Sept. 8, 2003.

Like whoever follows McCaw as AD at Baylor, McCaw stepped into a tenuous situation following a scandal that brought the basketball program and athletics department to their knees.

Basketball player Carlton Dotson had murdered Baylor teammate Patrick Dennehy, and head basketball coach Dave Bliss had lied in an attempt to cover up NCAA rules violations. Bliss also attempted to paint Dennehy as a drug dealer.

Bliss and Athletics Director Tom Stanton resigned on Aug. 8, 2003.

With key coaching hires and the addition of state-of-the-art facilities, McCaw rebuilt Baylor’s athletics program into a national powerhouse.

The Baylor men’s tennis team won the 2004 national title, and the women’s basketball team won national titles in 2005 and 2012. In 2011-12, all 19 Baylor sports advanced to postseason competition for the first time in school history.

Baylor has achieved its nine highest finishes in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup under McCaw, including a best-ever 23rd-place ranking in 2014-15. He was also the 2010 Tribune-Herald Sportsman of the Year.

But controversy regarding the school’s botched handling of sexual assault allegations in recent years, including several involving Baylor football players and athletes in other sports, led to the massive changes at Baylor in the past several days.

Since 2014, two former Baylor football players, Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu, were convicted on sexual assault charges. Another, Shawn Oakman, was arrested on a sexual assault charge last month.

Other football players have been named in Waco police reports alleging sexual assault and physical violence. Additionally, a former Baylor tennis player is named as the lone suspect in a sexual assault investigation that has been active about nine months.

Jasmin Hernandez, who twice was sexually assaulted by Elliott and gave the Tribune-Herald permission to use her name, has filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school. She alleges Baylor officials failed to take proper action against Elliott when they knew of previous allegations against him.

Baylor also paid an undisclosed settlement last fall to Ukwuachu’s victim.

Current and former Baylor students attended a candlelight vigil outside then-President Starr’s house in February, demanding a better response from university officials regarding sexual assault. A group of graduate students, graduates and local pastors also held a four-part prayer service for survivors and supporters.

Tribune-Herald staff writer John Werner contributed to this story.

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