The controversy shrouding Baylor’s athletic program intensified Saturday when shirts sporting former head football coach Art Briles’ initials were sold outside McLane Stadium.
The shirts, reading “#CAB” for coach Art Briles, were sold at the tailgate before the Baylor vs. Texas Christian University game.
The shirts were sold by Hurley’s Graphics and Boss Hawg Designs, LLC, a Lufkin T-shirt company. The company announced plans to sell the shirts during tailgating at Baylor through a Facebook post earlier in the week, but the post has since been removed.
Briles was fired five months ago for his role in the university’s sexual assault scandal. A recent Wall Street Journal article revealed some of the details behind the sexual assault cases that have brought Baylor into the national spotlight.
According the the report, the sexual assault reports since 2011 “involved 17 women who reported sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 players, including four alleged gang rapes.”
Regents told the Wall Street Journal that Briles was aware of at least one incident of sexual assault within the football program and did not report it to the police.
“There was a cultural issue there that was putting winning football games above everything else, including our values,” Regent J. Cary Gray said to the Wall Street Journal.
1987 Baylor alumna D’Ann Dubois purchased one of the shirts and expressed her frustration with Briles’ firing.
“All the alums I know support Art Briles, and we are very, very unhappy about his unjust firing,” Dubois said. “The board of regents handled this very badly, and coach Art Briles was a scapegoat, unjustly.”
The hashtag received sweeping condemnation on Twitter.
Neither Baylor Media Communications nor Baylor Athletic Marketing was available for comment regarding the shirts.
Friday evening, more than 30 Baylor coaches and staff members sent out a mass tweet claiming Briles acted appropriately after being notified of a gang rape involving football players.
“I think Coach Briles handled the matter honorably and with the serious attention it deserved,” the head sport coach of the victim was quoted in the tweet.
Interim head football coach Jim Grobe discussed the Wall Street Journal article when asked whether it was a distraction coming into the game when the assistant coaches tweeted in support of Briles.
“We had the Wall Street Journal article come out before we played Texas and that was the question,” Grobe said. “I hate to make excuses, but I really don’t know how to put my finger on that. I know we just didn’t play as well as we needed to, and I hate to say anything that takes away from TCU’s effort because I think they played really good.”
In response to the national scrutiny, Baylor created a site specifically addressing the scandal. Originally titled “The Truth,” the site’s name has since been changed to “The Facts.”