The Big 12 Conference on Wednesday called for Baylor University to turn over documentation of Pepper Hamilton’s investigation of Baylor’s sexual assault scandal.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby released this statement: “The Big 12 board of directors is gravely and deeply concerned by media reports about activities involving the athletics program at Baylor University. On May 24, 2016, the Big 12 board requested a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the sexual assaults at the university. At this time, the board is only privy to information that has been made available to the public.
“Today, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent a letter to Baylor University Interim President David Garland once again requesting all documents associated with the investigations of sexual assaults at Baylor. This request is for written materials as well as any information that has been conveyed orally to university leadership or to its Board of Regents including, but not limited to, the unedited written or verbal information from Pepper Hamilton, omitting only the names of any involved students. Internal documents pertinent to the investigation have also been requested.
“Because many of the incidents at Baylor reportedly involve student-athletes, the conference is appropriately concerned with discovery of the facts. The Big 12 is primarily configured to facilitate fair competition among its members and compliance to the rules of both the conference and NCAA. To that end, full disclosure is vital to assess the impact on the Big 12.”
“All of our member universities consider student safety and security to be paramount among institutional responsibilities,” Bowlsby said. “The Big 12 board of directors, each member of the conference and its student athletes want to convey that our thoughts, concerns and sympathies are with the Baylor survivors and their families.”
If Baylor does not comply with the Big 12’s request, the board would consider taking action against Baylor, Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda said.
“That means our board of directors would have to consider what type of action, if any, they were going to take and follow up,” Burda said.
Baylor released the following statement in response to the Big 12’s requests:
“Interim President David Garland received the letter from Commissioner Bowlsby and has contacted the commissioner to acknowledge receipt of his letter. Baylor is reviewing the Big 12’s request for additional information in light of Baylor’s obligations under federal privacy law and the commitment of confidentiality to the brave survivors who shared their experiences to help the university better understand its shortcomings. President Garland will seek an opportunity to sit down with Commissioner Bowlsby to personally discuss the investigation and the Big 12’s requests.
“Dr. Garland would like to reiterate that the findings of fact fully reflect the themes, core findings and failings identified in the investigation — while omitting the documentation of individual cases and names supporting these findings. Baylor’s board of regents chose to publicly release severely critical findings of fact because it believes it is in the best interest of the Baylor community to do so, regardless of the impact on current or potential civil litigation or regulatory action. The university self-reported to its community and the NCAA and will maintain normal communication with the Big 12 Conference during the course of the NCAA investigation.
“Baylor remains confident in the actions it has taken to ensure improvement in student safety and to help restore confidence that its priorities and values remain in the proper order. We hope to not only apply what we learn and to approach the highest levels of prevention, response and support for students impacted by these acts, but also to share what we learn with other higher education institutions for the benefit of students everywhere.”
Since 2014, two former Baylor football players have been convicted of sexual assault, stemming from incidents while they were associated with the team. Tevin Elliott is serving a 20-year prison sentence, and Sam Ukwuachu, who was convicted last September, is seeking a new trial.
Shawn Oakman, a member of Baylor’s 2015 team, was arrested on a sexual assault charge in April. Oakman and Ukwuachu transferred to Baylor from Penn State University and Boise State University, respectively, after being removed from their former teams because of disciplinary issues.
The personnel changes came in the fallout of Pepper Hamilton’s findings, which found a “fundamental failure” at Baylor to handle allegations of sexual assault. The law firm found “a cultural perception that football was above the rules” and that “there was no culture of accountability for misconduct,” according to a summary released by the Baylor Board of Regents.
Pepper Hamilton, a Philadelphia-based law firm, was hired in September by the school to investigate Baylor’s response to sexual assault. On May 26, Baylor regents released the summary and a list of recommendations from the report but have refused to release the report in full, including the evidence found to support the findings of fact, despite mounting pressure from the school’s alumni, students and faculty.
Though the school at the time touted its transparency, Garland has since said he has been instructed not to speak publicly, and board of regents Chairman Ron Murff has not returned any phone calls since May 26, including daily phone messages for more than two weeks.