Patty Crawford, the former Title IX coordinator of Baylor University who became a vocal critic of the school’s leadership at the time of her October 2016 resignation, said in a deposition that a group of faculty members viewed Title IX protections as “not biblical” and that an all-woman student group for recruiting football players was rooted in the school’s culture.
The student group known as the Baylor Bruins was “on call for football players to make sure that they had a good time,” Crawford said.
Some members of the group tried to protect football players accused of sexual assault, she said. Some members of the group became pregnant with children of football players and “ended up having to quit” as a result, while Title IX would protect students who become pregnant and safeguard their access to education, Crawford said in the Aug. 2 deposition.
Lawyers representing 10 women suing Baylor under Title IX released portions of the deposition Tuesday in an effort to showcase a university reluctant to implement the federal law banning discrimination based on sex and related guidance mandating universities investigate and adjudicate sexual assault reports. Similar allegations related to the Bruins were raised in a 2017 lawsuit that Baylor later settled.
Crawford said the Baylor Bruins, a group of female students responsible for helping recruit high school football players to Baylor, had an “underlying culture of objectifying women.” She said the women had to provide a head shot to gain acceptance into the group.
The group appeared on her radar when she received a Title IX complaint that a member had been sexually assaulted, she said.
Crawford said she received pushback when trying to investigate the Bruins and could not get a roster of members. She said Tommye Lou Davis, a longtime administrator who left her administrative post last year, played a lead role in the organization.
“You know, this was very cultural at Baylor, and (Davis had) been a part of Baylor and Texas for a very long time,” Crawford said. “So it was like an identity thing.”
In a statement, the university said the group was disbanded in late 2015 and replaced with a co-ed group of students who offer campus tours to all visitors.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the Baylor Bruins program used ‘sexuality and the implied promise of female companionship’ to recruit athletes, as alleged in a 2017 lawsuit,” according to a statement from the university. When the lawsuit was filed last year, several former members refuted its claims through social media posts.
Personal relationships between the group’s members and athletes were officially discouraged, according to the university.
“The Bruins had an official policy of no sexual contact with recruits/prospective athletes or current football players,” according to the statement.
Jim Dunnam, a Waco attorney representing the plaintiffs in the current suit, said Crawford’s account is tied to the alleged comments of Richard Willis, a Baylor Board of Regents chairman from 2012 to 2016. Two witnesses signed affidavits alleging Willis said the football team is successful, in part, because Baylor has “the best blond-haired, blue-eyed p----” in Texas.
Willis denies making the statement.
“What Patty Crawford ran into in regard to the Baylor Bruins shows that Willis’ worldview had real impact on young women at Baylor,” Dunnam said. “Because it’s not just some offensive statement. It was actually in practice at the university using young women only for recruitment.”
Crawford also said a “large group of powerful faculty” felt that Title IX, in addition to the school’s initiatives to increase diversity, were “not biblical.” She alleged the faculty members framed Title IX as an issue of academic freedom and appealed to influential board members that compliance should not be enforced.
“The fact remains that Baylor and its Board of Regents took unprecedented actions in May 2016 in response to past reports of sexual violence within its campus community,” according to the Baylor statement. “These actions included significant leadership changes and the adoption of a sweeping slate of 105 recommendations. These campuswide recommendations have since been completed, implemented and independently verified by external reviewers.”
The statement also claims the plaintiffs’ lawyers did not ask Crawford about the cases of the 10 plaintiffs, seven of whom had cases overseen by Crawford.
Richard Willis, the former chairman of Baylor University’s board of regents, once credited the on-field success of the school’s football progr…