An interim president and an acting athletics director will represent Baylor University at Big 12 meetings in Dallas this week, only days after the school’s president, athletics director and head football coach left their posts amid a sexual assault scandal.
Interim President David Garland and Deputy Athletics Director Todd Patulski are attending the meetings, which last from Tuesday to Friday. An interim athletics director has not been named, and there is no timeline for finding one, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said.
Ken Starr and Art Briles were removed from their positions Thursday as president and head football coach, respectively, amid revelations of discouragement and retaliation against sexual assault victims at Baylor, as reported by Pepper Hamilton, an outside law firm that investigated how the university handles reports of sexual assault.
“Baylor has a very capable athletics department staff, and each member will play an important role in overseeing the ongoing operations of the department,” Fogleman said in an email. “Deputy Athletics Director Todd Patulski will take on additional leadership roles as needed to lead the team and to fulfill the AD responsibilities at meetings of the Big 12 until an interim is named.”
The Baylor Board of Regents also announced Thursday that additional administrators and athletics department employees have been dismissed, but it said it will not identify those individuals. Patulski did not respond to a voice mail and an email Tuesday.
“I am confident that Baylor will overcome these tragic developments because of our courageous and devout regents and the outstanding faculty and staff,” Garland said in an email. “My prayers are with the victims of sexual assaults and, as a Christian, also with the perpetrators. Baylor has already taken steps to establish protocols for handling such cases and implementing the recommendations of the P-H (Pepper Hamilton) report.”
Sexual violence is a widespread problem at colleges, Garland said in his email.
“The problems are societal,” he said. “What is important for Baylor as a Christian university is that we find ways to build character, and I would say Christian character, as the ideal, as part of the educational experience of our students.”
Starr has been chairman of the Big 12’s composition committee, and it is unclear what his absence means for the conference, as it is likely to discuss expansion. Starr, University of Oklahoma President David Boren and University of West Virginia President E. Gordon Gee have studied potential new members and planned to report findings at the meetings.
“Judge Starr has done a good job leading that process and working with our consultants,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby recently told the San Antonio Express-News. “He’s been an active and effective participant. But while (Baylor’s scandal) is a distraction, I don’t know at a practical level if it will make much difference in the decision process or in the timetable we’re facing.”
Fogleman said the specifics of Garland’s role at the meetings are unclear.
“Dr. Garland is attending the Big 12 meetings, but we don’t know the details of other assignments,” Fogleman said. “He has attended these meetings in the past when he served as interim president and knows many of the leaders of member universities. He will focus on the work of the university as it relates to the Big 12 Conference.”