Baylor University’s board of regents met Monday evening, reportedly to discuss whether to reinstate Art Briles as head football coach for the 2017 season.
A small group of boosters pushing for Briles’ return is unlikely to result in any action, reported Dan Wolken of USA Today. The board suspended Briles with “intent to terminate” May 26, the same day the board released a summary explaining the university’s failures in responses to sexual violence.
Former Baylor President Ken Starr was removed from the presidency the same day, later resigning as chancellor, and former Athletics Director Ian McCaw resigned May 30 after being placed on probation by the university in the aftermath of the damaging “Findings of Fact” presented by Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton.
Baylor spokeswoman Tonya Lewis did not return voicemails but said in an email she will release information when she has it.
Several current and former regents and high-power donors did not return calls Monday.
One current regent confirmed to the Tribune-Herald that the board would hold a conference call Monday evening, but could not confirm what the focus of the call would be.
Briles signed a 10-year contract extension in November 2013. He reportedly earned about $6 million last year.
Baylor recently hired former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe to lead the 2016 campaign.
Former Baylor board of regents Chairman Dary Stone said Baylor has a “world-class” board of regents and he is confident in their handling of the situation.
“I am certain they’re being thoughtful about any and all things related to the issues presented by their most recent round of decisions,” Stone said. “I would trust them to be wise in how to handle those things. (It is) a regent decision only.
“I love and respect Coach Briles. I love and respect that board. It’d be a dream for me personally if Coach Briles could still be Coach Briles. I have no information to suggest something that they’re considering, but whatever they’re doing I have an immense amount of confidence.”
Gale Galloway, another former regent chair and Baylor football player, said he supports Briles.
“One of the finest men I’ve known is Art Briles,” said Galloway, 86. “He certainly deserves to be reinstated. This (his firing) is heartbreaking and an overreaction.”
He added, “The university needs to put the most qualified people back in their jobs to do their jobs. In my experience, we’ve cured problems within by utilizing the best people to do it. The board needs to take positive action and move beyond the scars it’s going to leave. You don’t alienate your shareholders, and ours are our alumni.”
Galloway said he has not seen any other evidence from Pepper Hamilton but said Briles should not have been fired.
“If he has been negligent in reporting or receiving phone calls in relation to transgressions, he’s admitted he made mistakes,” he said. “He’s a fine man and father. No one respects womanhood more than Art.”
Pepper Hamilton’s evidence for the scathing report has not been released. Baylor Interim President David Garland has said there is nothing else to be released, and he said Starr and regents heard oral presentations in the form of survivor stories.
According to the board’s summary, Baylor’s football program “created a cultural perception that football was above the rules.”
“The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the university,” the summary said.
Multiple women have told the Tribune-Herald how the university botched their sexual assault allegations. Elliott’s victim, Jasmin Hernandez, who gave the Tribune-Herald permission to use her name, has filed a Title IX lawsuit against Baylor.
Jacob Anderson was arrested on a sexual assault charge in March while he was a Baylor fraternity president and has since been indicted.
Last week, Baylor announced task forces and implementation teams to carry out Pepper Hamilton’s 105 recommendations related to improving university response to sexual assault.