A day after Baylor announced the impending firing of head football coach Art Briles, the future for the program remained cloudy.
Who would be the coach for the upcoming season? Would any of the current players seek transfers? Could the program face NCAA sanctions for its “fundamental failure” in preventing sexual harassment and violence by its players, as outlined in the Pepper Hamilton report?
Despite an ESPN report that Phil Bennett had been offered the position of interim head coach, a Baylor source said Friday that a decision hadn’t yet been made to that end. Bennett has served as Baylor’s defensive coordinator for the past five seasons. He previously had a six-year stint as the head coach at SMU from 2002-07, amassing an 18-51 record.
A decision on the interim coach would likely be made by Monday, the source said. Baylor’s incoming freshmen will report on that day.
Highly-touted freshman running back Kameron Martin from Port Arthur Memorial said he won’t report with the 2016 freshman class on Monday but still might report to Baylor in July.
“I’m still a Baylor Bear,” Martin said. “I just need some time and will keep my options open.”
Martin had no comment on reports that he has asked for a release from his Baylor scholarship.
Additionally, 2017 Houston Bellaire offensive lineman Jayden Peevy announced that he is decommitting from Baylor and is opening up his recruitment. That left four commitments in Baylor’s 2017 class after La Vega tight end Kedrick James decommitted Thursday.
Baylor got some good news when junior receiver KD Cannon and sophomore running back Terence Williams announced they’re staying with the program.
Freshmen who haven’t played yet may ask for a scholarship release and seek a transfer without penalty of sitting out, according to NCAA guidelines, provided that the school grants the scholarship release.
Current players who seek transfers must sit out a year under normal circumstances. In the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal at Penn State in 2012, players were allowed to transfer with no restrictions.
Baylor regents chairman Richard Willis said Thursday that the school has contacted the NCAA about possible rules violations with the way it handled sexual assault complaints against athletes. Willis said that Baylor would offer “full cooperation” with the NCAA.
David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University with knowledge of NCAA compliance, told the Associated Press that sanctions for Baylor seem unlikely.
“I think at this point in time, I’m not seeing any outward NCAA violations,” Ridpath said.
The NCAA was criticized for reaching beyond its scope in its sanctions against Penn State, which included a four-year bowl ban and massive scholarship reductions.
“My initial guess is the NCAA won’t get involved (with Baylor) because of Penn State, because that turned out to be such an issue for them,” Ridpath told the AP. “I think most everyone agrees that they shouldn’t have gotten involved — at least not to the extent that they did — by exercising executive authority.”