Baylor Football Avoids Major NCAA Penalties for Sexual Assault Scandal
Over five years after the school fired head coach Art Briles amid a major sexual assault scandal, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions handed down its ruling to the Baylor football program.
The NCAA panel that oversaw the case “could not conclude that Baylor violated NCAA rules when it failed to report allegations of and address sexual and interpersonal violence committed on its campus.”
“Baylor admitted to moral and ethical failings in its handling of sexual and interpersonal violence on campus but argued those failings, however egregious, did not constitute violations of NCAA rules. Ultimately, and with tremendous reluctance, this panel agrees,” the panel said in its decision. “To arrive at a different outcome would require the [committee] to ignore the rules the Association’s membership has adopted — rules under which the [committee] is required to adjudicate. Such an outcome would be antithetical to the integrity of the infractions process.”
However, the NCAA did find violations that occurred between 2011 and 2016, including impermissible benefits for one football player and the use of a “predominantly female student-host program that did not align with NCAA recruiting rules.”
As a result, Baylor has received four years probation, a $5,000 fine and several recruiting restrictions. Those include a reduction in official and unofficial visits, prohibiting recruiting communication during a two-week period of the 2021-22 academic year and reducing the program’s number of recruiting evaluation days during fall 2021 and spring 2022.
The decision from the NCAA came more than five years after a law firm hired by the university concluded that leaders of Baylor’s football program sometimes “affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence” to the appropriate authorities and that team officials had moved to “divert cases from the student conduct or criminal processes.”
Those findings ultimately led to the resignations or firings of football coach Art Briles, president Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw.
There have been other forms of punishing for Baylor. Last fall, the U.S. Department of Education fined the university more than $461,000 in connection with violations of a federal law that governs campus crime statistics. The university has also reached settlements with some women who brought claims under Title IX.