Shame on you, Baylor Nation. You should be ashamed of yourselves for only half-filling McLane Stadium on Senior Day versus Kansas State. Spare me your excuses about 11 a.m. games. It was painfully evident from the empty seats of many season ticket-holders that you only see fit to park your butts in your seats when Baylor is winning.
You were so knee-deep in your own misery over the way this football season has unfolded, you didn’t even have the decency to show up to support a team that has been through hell this season. Worse, you didn’t have the decency to show up to thank the group of seniors who were instrumental in bringing you not one but two Big 12 championships. And utterly unforgivable, you didn’t show up to thank a young man who gave all he had and more for this football team and for Baylor University.
Quarterback Seth Russell broke his neck in the sixth game of the 2015 season, missing being paralyzed by mere millimeters. Instead of calling it a day on his football career, he did everything he could to come back to help lead this team in 2016. Then tragically, at the OU game, he suffered a season-ending fracture of his ankle.
Tougher than nails, Seth had surgery on a Monday and was on the field at McLane Stadium for the last time the following Saturday. And how did you thank him, Baylor Nation? How did you thank him for giving his blood, sweat and tears for his team, for this university, for you? You didn’t show up.
The OU fans and players that day showed more concern for his well-being and gave him a bigger ovation when he was carted off the field in Norman than you did when he later rode a golf cart onto the field at McLane Stadium.
Shame on you, Baylor football coaches. You should be ashamed for wallowing in your own self-pity instead of doing what you claim to love and what you are paid to do: Coach your team. Coach these young men you recruited, these young men about whom you say you care so much. Rightly or wrongly, Art Briles is gone. But even despite the decommitments and transfers, he left you with one of the most talented groups of athletes in the Big 12. You could have made a statement by coaching those athletes to play to the best of their abilities.
Instead, you let your personal feelings override your good judgment and, in the process, you perpetrated a grave injustice on the young men who looked to you for guidance and leadership. You betrayed the juniors and seniors who are contemplating a career on the next level by failing to provide appropriate coaching to take advantage of their abilities and display their unique skills. The players had enough off-the-field distractions without your adding to their burden with your ill-advised and ill-timed tweets.
And while the Baylor Family recognizes your right to your perspective and many likely even agree with it, you were more concerned about righting a perceived wrong than taking pride in your work and taking care of your players. You ceased to care and thereby lost any respect I had for you. Your indifference reared its ugly head in the second half of the Texas game and morphed into a hideous monster by the TCU game, sucking the drive, energy and competitive spirit out of your team.
What kind of example did you set for your players? They feed off your energy, your drive, your fire. An electric log has more fire in it than you had in recent games.
Bless you, Coach Jim Grobe, for taking a job that was an uphill battle from the start. You’re a good man and you were thrust into an untenable situation. When the coaching staff began to falter, I expected you to step in and take charge. The entire staff may have been Coach Briles’ assistants but they became your assistants when you were hired.
Your apparent passivity empowered them to imprudently act in the way they have. Maybe you’re as beaten down by all of this as the rest of the coaches — or maybe you’ve been admonished by the powers that be to resist rocking the boat. But somehow, given the enormous amount of respect afforded you by other college football coaches and the news media, I expected more.
Finally, shame on you, Baylor University Board of Regents. You should be ashamed that your spectacular lack of leadership is directly responsible for the entire fiasco now known far and wide as “The Baylor Scandal.” Your abject failure to implement Title IX policy as you were directed by the U.S. Department of Education back in 2011 is the match that lit this conflagration and set it burning out of control.
Your pitiful excuse for a public relations firm may insist that you aren’t responsible for the day-to-day operations of Baylor University, but you absolutely were responsible for funding implementation of Title IX, which you failed to do. That failure resulted in a willy-nilly, uncoordinated, untrained and woefully inadequate response to the needs and support of victims of sexual assault and/or interpersonal violence. In the aftermath of the Pepper Hamilton law firm’s investigation of campus shortcomings, you gambled that firing a beloved football coach, demoting a popular president and sanctioning an athletic director would appease the court of public opinion and the entire matter would blow over in a matter of weeks.
When it didn’t, you remained silent, putting alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff in the unenviable position of defending Baylor against attacks from the media, social media and strangers on the street. When you finally decided to mount a response, you hired a public relations firm to protect your own selfish interests rather than the interests of Baylor University. It is unconscionable that, after months of silence and repeated requests for more information by alumni, students and parents, you would attempt to justify your actions by giving interviews with “selected regents” to the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports” without prior notice and without first explaining yourselves to the Baylor Family.
Because of the high-profile nature of incidents allegedly involving football players (even though, by your own admission, only 10 percent of the alleged incidents in a five-year period involving sexual assault or interpersonal violence were perpetrated by athletes), you continued to publicly heap blame on the football program while blatantly ignoring the other 90 percent of incidents involving non-athletes. In an Oz-like “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” campaign, you attempted to deflect blame from yourselves and eschew responsibility for Baylor’s campus-wide Title IX problems and preserve its Christian brand by placing the onus on athletics. In doing so, you effectively trivialized every Baylor woman victimized by a non-athlete.
Since 2011, your attitude that “it doesn’t happen here” and your lack of response to the DOE Title IX directive resulted in dereliction of your duty to see that adequate resources were provided to ensure that all victims of sexual assault and interpersonal violence received the care, support and justice they deserved. Your offer to release the agendas and minutes from board of regent meetings beginning in February 2017 rings hollow when you refuse to release prior agendas and minutes, continue to meet in secrecy and refuse to dismiss those directly responsible for oversight of Title IX — senior vice president and chief operating officer Reagan Ramsower and associate dean Bethany McCraw.
I’m only a small fish in the larger Baylor pond, but I’m calling for your resignations, regents, and in whatever orderly fashion will be the least disruptive to Baylor’s operation. In the Immortal Message, Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks wrote: “Because of what Baylor has meant to you in the past, because of what she will mean to you in the future: Oh, my students, have a care for her. Build upon the foundations here the great school of which I have dreamed, so that she may touch and mold the lives of future generations and help to fit them for life here and hereafter. To you seniors of the past, of the present, of the future, I entrust the care of Baylor University. To you I hand the torch.”
It’s abundantly clear to me that S.P. Brooks believed it was up to the alumni and future alumni of Baylor University to ensure our alma mater was cared for properly. It’s also sadly and painfully clear that you, Baylor University Board of Regents, seem to feel no such obligation.
Linda Carol Trotter, Baylor University Class of 1981, lives in Franklin, Tennessee. However, she says she and her husband Bob attend all home and away Baylor football games and hold season tickets for all men’s and women’s basketball games. They belong to the Bear Foundation, Linebacker Club and Lady Bears Tip Off Club and give to various athletic and academic funding campaigns and endowed scholarships. They serve as leaders for the Nashville Area Baylor Parents Network and have hosted Baylor Summer Send-Off Parties for the past three years. Daughter Heather is a journalism/public relations major at Baylor University.