Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has demoted its president and will fire its football coach after an investigation concluded that the university and the athletics department repeatedly mishandled cases of sexual assault against women.
The university issued a statement announcing that Ken Starr, university president, was being demoted to chancellor and that Art Briles, the football coach, was suspended while a legal process to terminate his contract has begun.
"We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus," says Richard Willis, chair of the board of regents at Baylor. "This investigation revealed the university's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students. The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us."
Starr "will no longer serve in the role of president...effective May 31," the university says. He will retain his position as a law school professor and has agreed to serve as chancellor. Briles has been suspended indefinitely "with intent to terminate according to contractual procedures."
The university also has placed Athletic Director Ian McCaw on probation, and has fired "additional members of the administration and athletics program." Those individuals were not identified.
"We made these decisions because, above all, we must safeguard our students and our campus," says Willis. "We must set a new course to ensure the leaders of the university place a premium on responding effectively and with sensitivity to those impacted by the tragedy of interpersonal violence."
The shakeup at Baylor coincides with the release of an investigative report by the law firm of Pepper Hamilton on the university's compliance with federal guidelines regarding sex discrimination (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
Among the findings:
- Baylor's handling of student complaints was "wholly inadequate...in some cases, the university failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its occurrence or address its effects."
- University administrators discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes, and in one instance, retaliated against a complainant for reporting a sexual assault.
- The athletic department and the football program failed to "identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player and to a report of dating violence.
- The football program and the athletic department failed to respond appropriately to reports of a sexual assault involving multiple football players.
- Significant concerns were raised "about the tone and culture within Baylor's football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct."