Art Briles will be back in his home state of Texas coaching football again in the fall.
The former Baylor University head football coach who was fired in the wake of the law firm Pepper Hamilton’s investigation into Baylor’s mishandling of sexual assault cases has been hired as Mount Vernon’s head football coach, according to a press release from Mount Vernon ISD. The hiring was first reported by Matt Stepp of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.
Briles, 63, is in the midst of his first season coaching Guelfi Firenze, a semipro team in Florence, Italy that plays American football. Prior to that, he had struck out in multiple attempts to get back into coaching following his firing from Baylor. That included being hired by Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in August 2017 before the team quickly reversed course following a public outcry from fans and media.
He also was linked to the vacant Southern Mississippi offensive coordinator position in February of this year. However, Southern Miss officials later released a statement that they had met with Briles and informed him that he was not a candidate.
In a statement, Briles said that he’s thrilled to be returning to coaching Texas high school football. Prior to joining the college football ranks, Briles produced a highly successful run as a high school coach at Sundown, Sweetwater, Hamlin, Georgetown and Stephenville. He won four state titles at Stephenville and tallied a record of 165-46-3 in high school.
This will mark his first season coaching high school football since 1999.
“High school football is a Texas institution. As a coach, it’s my first love,” Briles said. “You’ll make no bigger impact in this world than when you shape the lives of young people — one practice, one game, and one life at a time. I am excited to be coaching at Mount Vernon this fall.”
While Mount Vernon’s move was praised in some corners, it was criticized in others. Brenda Tracy, who survived a gang rape by several Oregon State players and now serves as a public speaker and an activist for sexual assault victims, expressed disappointment on Twitter.
“Yes, Art, the Baylor rape survivors are very aware of your impact on young lives,” Tracy tweeted. “While you’ve been UNAPOLOGETIC and only concerned with coaching again, they’ve been living out your nightmare influence and will do so for the rest of their lives.”
According to Mount Vernon’s press release, former Baylor coach Grant Teaff offered a positive recommendation to the school district regarding Briles.
“I have known Art Briles for over 30 years as an extremely successful high school coach and through his years as a college coach,” Teaff said in a statement. “I have observed him as a man, husband, father, grandfather, and as a coach, always forthright and stellar.”
Mount Vernon ISD Superintendent Jason McCullough expressed excitement over the hiring.
“We are pleased to welcome Coach Briles back home to Texas,” McCullough said. “He brings with him a wealth of not only football experience but also life experience. He is passionate about investing in the lives of young people and helping them to succeed both on the field and in life.
“After a thorough due diligence process and several earnest conversations, we believe our students will benefit greatly from his skills and experience.”
Mount Vernon also noted that its school district has a Title IX coordinator and offers regular Title IX training for its staff and administrators.
Mount Vernon, which is about 100 miles northeast of Dallas, plays football in Class 3A, and has made the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. It had a 9-4 record in 2018.