Baylor University is fighting back against a former football player who in a recent lawsuit accused the university of botching a Title IX investigation of a gang rape allegation and depriving him of a scholarship and a shot at the NFL.

In a response this week in 414th State District Court, the university accuses the former player, Jeremy Faulk, of ducking responsibility for his decisions and fudging the facts of the case. The university says it was within its rights to cut him from the team and had grounds apart from the Title IX investigation to revoke his scholarship.

Faulk, who transferred onto the Baylor football team in January 2016, was accused in April of that year of joining with his roommate to sexually assault a female student.

Faulk’s accuser, who declined to press charges, told police she screamed “No,” and “I don’t want this.” Faulk has acknowledged having sex with the woman but said it was consensual.

When the Title IX office began investigating the incident, he was dismissed from the team and had his scholarship revoked. Faulk appealed the scholarship revocation and had it reinstated in July 2016, but he quit Baylor and the Title IX investigation was suspended.

In his lawsuit Faulk claims that he was scapegoated by university officials, who were racially prejudiced and wanted to portray an image “that the sexual assault problem at Baylor was not campuswide but confined to the football team.”

Baylor’s lawsuit said the disciplinary actions were the decision not of regents or top administrators but of athletics officials who “decided that Faulk was too big a risk to remain in the football program,” at a time when the university had just shaken up its top leadership over a sexual assault scandal.

“The problem with Faulk’s conspiracy theory is that it ignores the reality of what was happening in the spring 2016 semester at Baylor — and his own conduct,” Julie Springer, an Austin lawyer representing Baylor, wrote in the motion.

The university, through a spokesman, declined to comment on Faulk’s case, which entered the public eye in June 2016 through an ESPN report. Faulk has said he was not given a reason for his dismissal and denies the accusation of sexual assault.

Reinstated scholarship

The university has stressed that Faulk could return to Baylor as a student under full scholarship because a review panel reinstated it in July 2016. But it notes in the lawsuit that in the appeal process, Baylor officials focused not on the Title IX investigation then underway but on a sexual harassment complaint at Faulk’s former school that he failed to disclose to Baylor officials.

Baylor officials said that during Faulk’s time at Florida Atlantic University in 2013, Faulk and a friend allegedly barged in on a teammate and a girlfriend who were both naked and lying in bed. When Faulk and his friend allegedly threatened to pull off the sheets, police were called, though no charges were filed.

Baylor has said the Title IX investigation into Faulk would be reopened if he chose to return to the university. Baylor said it was “within its right” to remove him from the team because of the allegations “at a time when the nation was laser-focused on Baylor and questions surrounding sexual assault.”

“Participation in Baylor Athletics is a privilege and not a right,” Springer wrote. “Removing that privilege in the face of serious allegations is not illegal.”

McLane Stadium (copy)

Baylor University pushed back on the claims of Jeremy Faulk, a former football player who says he was treated unfairly during a Title IX investigation. 

Faulk signed with the New York Jets in August of 2017 and was cut from the roster the following month. The Cleveland Browns signed him in January of this year and cut him in September. Faulk and his lawyer, Richard Tate, claimed in the lawsuit that the sexual assault allegations have harmed Faulk’s career.

Tate declined to comment for this article.

Phillip Ericksen joined the Tribune-Herald in March 2015 as a sports copy editor. That November, he joined the news team. He has covered higher education, city hall, politics and crime.

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