Ex-Baylor DC Denies Sexual Assault Coverup, Says Art Briles Deserves to Coach

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2018

WACO, TX - OCTOBER 11:  Baylor Bears Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett looks on against the TCU Horned Frogs on October 11, 2014 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said no member of the Bears' coaching staff under former head coach Art Briles ever covered up accusations of sexual assault made against members of the football team, according to Mac Engel of the Star-Telegram. 

"Never. If I had heard about it, trust me ... no," he said in an interview published Wednesday. "My integrity, and I could say this when I was 29, my integrity was more important than any job I ever had."

He also said he believes Briles should be allowed to coach again.

"Every night I say a prayer for him because, without question, I think he deserves to (coach again)," Bennett said.

In May 2016, Briles was fired after an ESPN Outside The Lines report alleged the school did not properly deal with sexual assault allegations against its student-athletes, including members of the football program. Baylor also fired president Ken Starr.

Two former Baylor football players, Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu, were convicted of rape in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Shawn Oakman was indicted on sexual assault charges shortly after the OTL report surfaced. 

In his interview with Engel, Bennett said he felt the Pepper Hamilton investigation of the school's Title IX protocol was a sham, that the school didn't have a Title IX procedure in place before the investigation and said he believed Briles had handled himself correctly during his time as the head coach.

"Art had done right, and it started to affect him," Bennett said. "He would say to me, 'I could have done more.' I would say, 'What would you do different?' He said, 'I don't know. Go to the police?' We did not have Title IX until after all of this stuff."

He added: "The system was not in place. The system failed us. It failed them, and it failed the kids."

Baylor responded to Bennett's interview. The following is an excerpt from their response:

"The underlying situation of what happened at Baylor is quite simple. Two high-profile cases of sexual assault involving football players led the Baylor Board of Regents to launch an independent investigation of not only the football program but of the entire campus in terms of how reports of sexual violence were handled during a four-year period. The results of this investigation were outlined in a Findings of Fact document that led to sweeping leadership changes and a slate of 105 recommendations for improvement.

"The facts concerning Baylor's past handling of incidents of sexual assault have not changed, and the University remains confident in the personnel changes made as a result. The latest assertions about the investigation, claims of racism and a cover-up continue to trade on baseless conspiracy theories and outright speculation."

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