Scandal-Plagued Baylor Gets a New Athletic Director

It's official: Mack Rhoades is Baylor University's new athletic director. The former athletic director at the University of Houston and, most recently, the University of Missouri, Rhoades has to rebuild a program reeling with accusations of sexual assaults by players.  

The task he faces is hard to underestimate, and few have comparable experiences. The names David Joyner, who took over at Penn State University in the midst of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, and Dudley Parker, who shepherded SMU through its NCAA-imposed "death penalty" in 1987 and 1988, come to mind.

Baylor fired Athletic Director Ian McCaw, Head Football Coach Art Briles and University President Ken Starr after multiple football players were convicted of sexual assault and members of the athletic and football staff were accused of trying to silence and shame the people who had spoken out.

Rhoades has been at Mizzou for one year after spending six years in Houston. "The past year has taught me a great deal about who I am as a person and as a leader. I am very grateful to the people I've worked with and come to know throughout the state of Missouri," Rhoades said Wednesday afternoon.

During his time in Missouri, Rhoades dealt with several issues that could prepare him for what he'll face at Baylor. He dealt with softball coach Ehren Earleywine, who is still being investigated for violating the Title IX rights of his players by verbally abusing them,and endured the aftermath of Frank Haith's tenure as basketball coach, which resulted in the school self-imposing a one-year postseason ban for NCAA violations. 

These experiences have "helped galvanize a commitment to my core values and to the values I want to infuse into an athletics program," Rhoades said.

Baylor Interim President David Garland said that Rhoades will return the athletic program to the school's traditional Baptist values. "He intends to build champions on the field and on the court and to mold student-athletes into champions in their lives after sports," Garland said in a statement. "Most importantly, he is committed to and excited by Baylor's Christian mission and vision." 
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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