Time has passed to allow time for reflection. With the firing of Kenneth Starr, Art Briles and others, and the resignation of Ian McCaw, Baylor has taken a major step toward cleaning up the horrible mess that has percolated to the surface over the past few months. Given the passage of time, some thoughts come to mind.
First, the young women who came forward are to be applauded for their courage and determination to make sure the right thing was done. These women suffered a devastating event in their lives. Such times call for sympathy, understanding, caring, compassion and encouragement. They call for action and steps taken to see that the many aspects of help are provided, from ensuring, as much as possible, that such an event does not happen again to counseling and follow-up.
Sadly, some at Baylor turned a deaf ear to what basic decency compels us to do and instead chose to do nothing. I applaud you, ladies, and hope you get the support you need. I hope you will be continue to be a voice of courage and conviction.
Second, Baylor is a good school, filled with good people trying to do the right thing each and every day. The actions of a few cannot take away that there are caring faculty and staff at Baylor that are saddened at the accusations that have been thrown at their school. The women and men who work at Baylor have genuine care for their students and their well-being. Most of the staff and faculty are devoted Christian men and women, who truly strive in their daily lives, personally and professionally, to walk in a Christlike manner. Baylor is still a place that offers an excellent education in a caring, nurturing environment that challenges mental, spiritual and emotional growth.
Third, no matter how hard we try, as long as people are involved, evil is only a thought away. No institution is freed from scandal or horrible events, simply because our institutions are filled with people. The Bible, which tells us we are created in God’s image, also reminds us that “there is no one righteous, no, not one.”
As long as people are involved, we are required to be on our guard against evil, against violence, against the baser things that tend to destroy us. Baylor let its guard down, but I believe Baylor will use this to grow stronger, wiser, more caring and compassionate.
Fourth, a few bad apples should not define a large group of committed young men who represent Baylor athletics. For the most part, Baylor football, tennis, basketball, baseball, track and field and golf have shown Baylor in a favorable light. The football team last year demonstrated a determination to overcome adversity in winning nine games, including a truly remarkable bowl game against a highly regarded opponent. Most of Baylor’s athletes are badly shaken at the events that have occurred over the past few months, but I believe they will rise again, and that they will present a truer face of Baylor to the world.
Fifth, we need to remember that there are consequences for our actions, both good and bad actions. Sometimes, these consequences reverberate through time, even after the initial events have occurred. I don’t know what Art Briles did and didn’t know. All I know is that he was the head coach at the time the events took place. As a head coach, the buck stops with him, and he had to take the consequences of what had happened under his watch. The same is true of Ian McCaw and Kenneth Starr.
Sixth, William Shakespeare reminds us that the evil men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones. Art Briles has been a good representative of Baylor football and Baylor University. When I first moved to Waco 20 years ago, I walked into HEB and other outlets around town, only to be greeted by UT and A&M logos on various items; I had to look to find Baylor stuff. That’s not the case anymore.
Baylor football has gone from horrible teams to excitement, pride and victory. Art Briles is to thank for that. Ian McCaw is to be thanked for the athletic department he built, one that competes across the board in the Big 12 and the nation, with outstanding facilities that Baylor can be proud of.
Finally, we need to use this as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to see ourselves honestly with a willingness to change where change is needed. Instinctively, we look to blame others — ESPN, other media — for our discomfort.
This is not a time to circle the wagons. It’s a time to acknowledge that something went horribly wrong, and as a result, Baylor is suffering the consequences. With all tragic events, we will either become better or we will crumble and never recover. I believe Baylor is strong enough to survive and become a better place.