By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer
The NCAA is conducting an “ongoing, pending investigation” into Baylor’s handling of various sexual assault allegations, the school’s lawyers confirmed in a federal court filing.
Baylor officials said the school must maintain the confidentiality of the NCAA’s investigation process. Baylor lawyers argued in court that providing all of their communications with the NCAA could compromise the investigation.
The NCAA is a voluntary organization composed of hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United States. One of the primary duties of the NCAA is to enforce regulations governing issues such as recruiting, admissions, financial aid, impermissible benefits and academic standards. NCAA bylaws mandate that NCAA investigations be maintained as confidential.
“I find it significant that for over a year Baylor has been going around talking about transparency, but tells the court it wants to turn over no records,” Chad Dunn, one of the attorneys representing several women who have sued Baylor, told the Associated Press.
In a separate filing, Baylor officials told the federal judge they may compile a spreadsheet for the court of all alleged sexual assaults at Baylor from 2003 to February 2016 to quantify the history of the problem without compromising private student information, AP reported.
“It talks about NCAA disclosures, which is why we will decline to comment,” said Lori Fogleman, Assistant Vice President for Media Relations and Crisis Communications about the filing.
The Baylor athletic department said it is doing everything they can to make the investigation go as smoothly as possible.
“I think we’ve been extremely cooperative with the NCAA. We’re still in that timeframe of learning more. We’ve been extremely transparent and we continue to be. It’ll lead us where it leads us,” said Baylor Athletic Director Mack Rhoades to the Associated Press.
The Baylor Athletic Department declined to comment.
The Lariat reached out to the NCAA but did not get a response.
The national media attention surrounding this investigation and the sexual assault allegations have been largely felt on Baylor’s campus, especially by student athletes.
“The change in media presence and a negative national spotlight on the athletics programs was definitely something I was aware of,” said Seattle junior Lizzie Armstrong, who is on the Baylor Track & Field team. “Although the atmosphere has changed, I still feel the welcoming community and strong connection between teams that I experienced when I first came to Baylor. I have met many amazing individuals through Baylor athletics that I consider family, and am still proud to say that I am an athlete here.”
The sexual assault allegations first surfaced in May of 2016, when the university fired head football coach Art Briles and athletic director Ian McCaw and demoted former Baylor President Ken Starr, who later resigned.
Since then, more than a dozen women have filed lawsuits claiming that the university mishandled or ignored their complaints. This led to an internal investigation of the university by the law firm Pepper Hamilton, which resulted in 105 recommendations from the law firm for Baylor to improve upon. By May 2017, Baylor had implemented all 105 recommendations, according to university’s website.