Baylor University officials were silent a day after the board of regents made high-level personnel changes in response to the university’s “fundamental failure” in responding to rape reports and the football program’s reinforcement of “the perception that rules applicable to other students are not applicable to football players.”
The Baylor Board of Regents removed Ken Starr as president and Art Briles as head football coach Thursday after an outside law firm determined Baylor administrators and athletic department employees mishandled rape allegations and failed to properly administer federal laws protecting women.
When the Tribune-Herald requested an interview with David Garland, who will start as interim president Wednesday, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said, “we will revisit your interview request in the coming weeks.”
In addition to Starr and Fogleman, spokeswoman Tonya Lewis, Athletics Director Ian McCaw and Associate Dean for Student Conduct Administration Bethany McCraw did not respond to requests for comment Friday. They did not respond to questions, including one asking for an explanation of why Starr was removed from the presidency but remains chancellor of the university and why McCaw remains athletic director.
In a 25-minute phone press conference Thursday, board of regents Chairman Richard Willis said, “We don’t talk about individual people. It’s just inappropriate to do that,” when asked why Starr remained chancellor, though the board found reason to strip him of the presidency. Willis went on to say Starr will no longer have operating responsibilities within the university.
Officials also did not respond to questions Friday regarding why Baylor did not create a Title IX office or hire a full-time Title IX coordinator until three years after a Dear Colleague Letter from the Department of Education reminded universities to do so. Officials also did not respond to a question asking whether the Tribune-Herald can see the law firm’s full report with victims’ names and other identifying information redacted.
Pepper Hamilton LLP, the Philadelphia law firm that conducted the investigation, “found that Baylor’s efforts to implement Title IX were slow, ad hoc, and hindered by a lack of institutional support and engagement by senior leadership,” according to a summary of Pepper Hamilton’s findings provided by the regents.
Baylor officials also did not say how many Baylor employees will lose their jobs; which employees contributed to the “perception that football was above the rules”; and what evidence supports a finding of fact stating actions by administrators “constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.”
“We were shocked,” Baylor regent David Harper said during the Thursday conference. “It made us angry, sad and very humbled. We have an institutional lack of comprehension on this issue and we see that now.”
Calls to several employees in the athletics department were not returned Friday. Deputy Athletics Director Todd Patulski would not comment on the makeup of the athletic department in the wake of Thursday’s announcements, though he said he wishes he could speak on the matter.
“It’s not my position to be the spokesman,” Patulski said.
Since 2014, two former Baylor football players, Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu, have been convicted of sexual assault. Former player Shawn Oakman was arrested on a sexual assault charge last month. Others were accused of sexual assault and physical violence in Waco police reports.
Jasmin Hernandez, who twice was sexually assaulted by Elliott at an off-campus party and gave the Tribune-Herald permission to use her name, has filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school, alleging officials knew of previous allegations against Elliott and failed to take proper action.
Former student Jacob Anderson was arrested on a sexual assault charge in March while he was president of a Baylor fraternity, and a Baylor tennis player is named as the lone suspect in a sexual assault investigation that has been active for more than eight months.
“They literally told me that if I hadn’t been drinking or hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t be in this scenario,” she said.