Fallout from Baylor Sexual Assault Scandal Grows

Baylor's mess, the one the Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated school  got itself into by turning blind eyes and wagging fingers to women who accused the school's football players of sexual assault, isn't nearly settled. Personnel dominoes are still falling, potential athletes are leaving the school in droves and the school's leadership can't seem to get out of its own way.

Wednesday afternoon, former Baylor President Ken Starr gave an exclusive interview to ESPN in which he revealed two things. First, Starr was not, as the school announced last week, going to stay on in the largely ceremonial role of Baylor's chancellor, although he is going to keep teaching at the law school. Secondly, he is either completely oblivious or monstrously unflinching when it comes to the plight of women on Baylor's Waco campus.

Starr told ESPN's Joe Schad that, when it came to the multiple sexual assault allegations and convictions that have racked deposed head coach Art Briles' football program over the last half-decade, he was behind a "veil of ignorance." He believed that women were safe enough on the Baylor campus, he said, because most of the sexual assaults that were happening were taking place off campus.

According to stats from the U.S. Department of Education's campus safety website, at least 14 sexual offenses — including rape and other forcible sexual contact — occurred on campus during 2012, 2013 and 2014. Starr only learned of former Baylor defensive end Tevin Elliot's 2014 sexual assault conviction in the media, he said, and didn't think it said anything about the program as a whole.

"That doesn’t suggest a systematic or cultural problem,” he told Schad.

Over the weekend, athletic director Ian McCaw, initially placed on probation by the university, quit the school after a few days of "reflection and prayer." Phil Bennet, the school's defensive coordinator and presumed interim head coach after Briles got the boot, was passed over for Baylor outsider Jim Grobe, who last stepped on a field at Wake Forest in 2013.

Late Wednesday, reports surfaced that seven members of Baylor's 2016 recruiting class, including the university's top three recruits, had asked to be let out of their commitments to the university just days after all seven had been scheduled to enroll at Baylor for the first summer school session.

Baylor, under threat of NCAA penalties and facing the knowledge that the most damning evidence contained in the report that led to Briles' and Starr's sackings still hasn't been released, plays football in a new 45,410-seat stadium that opened just in time for 2014 season. It was conceived and built largely on the back of Briles' accomplishments on the field.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young