Art Briles Denies Covering Up Accusations of Sexual Violence at Baylor

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2017

WACO, TX - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Art Briles of the Baylor Bears looks on as the Bears take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half at McLane Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Former Baylor University head football coach Art Briles released a statement Wednesday defending his reputation and denying he covered up sexual assault allegations involving the team.

Phillip Ericksen of the Waco Tribune-Herald passed along details of a letter released by the former Bears coach concerning his role in the school's sexual assault scandal and the need for more transparency from the Baylor Board of Regents:

Let me be clear. I did not cover up sexual violence. I had no contact with anyone that claimed to be a victim of sexual or domestic assault. Anyone well-versed in my work as a coach knows that I strove to promote excellence but never at the sacrifice of safety for anyone. I did not obstruct justice on campus or off.

Briles stated his response to being alerted of any alleged assault involving a member of the roster was to suggest the accuser contact police, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. The former coach also said he "never knowingly played anyone with a sexual assault allegation against him."

The 61-year-old Texas native was fired by Baylor last May amid widespread leadership changes at the school in the wake of the scandal. In a statement at the time, Board of Regents chairman Richard Willis commented on the systematic breakdown of reported sexual assaults:

We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. 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. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.

Dan Wolken of USA Today reported the sides reached an agreement to formally terminate the remaining portion of his contract last June.

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Briles later filed a libel lawsuit against three Baylor officials for comments about his role in the situation that "likely ended his profession and career," but he dropped the suit in early February, per Sarah Mervosh of the Dallas Morning News.

That decision came days after Mervosh provided the details from a lawsuit filed by a Baylor graduate, who said she was raped by two football players in 2013. The documents included an allegation that members of the football team committed 52 acts of rape involving 31 players from 2011 through 2014.

In addition, Mervosh's report noted the lawsuit said Briles created a "culture of sexual violence" during his time leading the program and the "school implemented a 'show 'em a good time' policy that 'used sex to sell' the football program to recruits."

Ernest Cannon, Briles' lawyer, told the outlet the former coach had "absolutely no knowledge" of those alleged figures.

"Art Briles does not have an idea what they're talking about," Cannon said. "He knows about those two that got convicted and he knows that no player who ever got charged with any kind of a crime ever played for them."

The Waco Tribune-Herald pointed out Briles wrote in his letter Wednesday that he "could remain silent no longer" about the allegations made against him and urged the Baylor Board of Regents to "remember the importance of thorough investigations with full transparency."