Briles denies role in scandal cover-up

Former head coach Art Briles shakes hands with junior wide receiver KD Cannon after a game against SMU on September 4, 2015 where Baylor won 56-21. Briles recently wrote a letter stating that he played no part in covering up the sexual assault scandal. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

By Kalyn Story | Staff Writer

Jancy Briles, daughter of former head football coach Art Briles, emailed the Lariat a letter signed by Briles on Thursday morning denying he had any role in a sexual assault cover-up, expressing his love for the Baylor family and calling for more transparency from Baylor’s leadership. image001.png

“Let me be clear: I did not cover-up any sexual violence,” Briles wrote in his letter. “I had no contact with anyone that claimed to be a victim of sexual or domestic assault. Anyone well-versed in my work as a coach knows that I strove to promote excellence, but never at the sacrifice of safety for anyone. I did not obstruct justice on campus or off.”

Briles’s letter begins by explaining that he can no longer remain silent about allegations against him although there are some details he cannot disclose due to a confidentiality agreement with the university related to his departure.

A Baylor spokesperson said the university declined to comment on Briles’ letter.

Briles’ letter comes a day after the Department of Public Safety announced that the Texas Rangers will be conducting an investigation into Baylor’s handling of sexual assault cases to see if further actions need to be taken. A spokesperson for the university said they will cooperate fully with any and all investigations.

In February, in response to a libel case filed by a former athletic department employee, a document was filed by regents Cary Gray, Ron Murff and David Harper that quoted alleged text messages between Briles and other athletic department employees.

The document says in one instance that “an assistant coach notified Coach Briles of a claim by a female student-athlete that a football player brandished a gun at her. Coach Briles responded: ‘what a fool – she reporting to authorities.’ The assistant coach texted back: ‘She’s acting traumatized … Trying to talk her calm now…Doesn’t seem to want to report though.’ Coach Briles texted: ‘U gonna talk to [the player].’ The assistant coach concluded: ‘Yes sir, just did. Caught him on the way to class… Squeezed him pretty good.’ The matter was never reported to Judicial Affairs.”

The document quotes another series of exchanged texts regarding a football player who exposed himself to a masseuse during a session at a salon and spa and asked for “favors.”

“What kind of discipline… She a stripper,” Briles wrote in a text, the document reports.

The filed document also details a conversation exchanged between Briles and the coach of a female student-athlete who was allegedly gang raped by five football players.

“Those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys,” Briles said.

Briles seemed to address these text messages in his letter and claimed they were taken out of context.

“[R]umor, innuendo, and out of context messages, emails, and comments have no place in a true fact-finding mission,” Briles wrote.

The former head football coach also criticized the media’s coverage of Baylor’s sexual assault scandal.

“There is an onslaught of information coming out in the press that is inaccurate, misleading, and unfair to Baylor, its amazing students, its strong faculty, the administration and its athletic programs,” Briles wrote.

San Antonio sophomore Paige Hardy said she wishes Briles would leave the situation alone to allow victims to have peace.

“As a victim of sexual assault, when I first read the texts, I was shaken. There is no context I can imagine that those would be loving, caring or part of the Christian community Baylor values,” Hardy said.

Hardy said Briles did not take action against sexual assault when he had the chance and she does not believe Briles is fit to coach at a learning institution again.

“Words mean nothing. It’s actions that matter, and he didn’t do anything when he could, so why should I listen to him now?” Hardy said. “There’s no way I could ever trust him again, and I don’t think he should ever be a coach again.”

Hardy said more than Briles, she is disappointed with the Baylor’s Title IX office, and she believes progress must be made there first.

“I’ve dealt with Title IX and am incredibly disappointed with the care I’ve received,” Hardy said. “When friends tell me they’ve been assaulted and ask what to do, it is hard for me to direct them to the Title IX office because I wasn’t treated well, and I don’t know how they’ll be treated. I wish Baylor would do something for me to be able to regain my faith in them, but they haven’t yet.”

Over the past year Baylor made various changes to its Title IX office and policies and procedures for reporting an incident of sexual assault along with required Title IX training for faculty, staff and students. Baylor has also gone so far as to make syllabi carry Title IX content.

“We have some goals and specific ways we want to start doing some of that programming,” said Kristan Tucker, Title IX coordinator told the Lariat in January. “This is going to speak into the topics and ways to reach the students. We are asking for that honesty and transparency so we can understand and make this place better and continue to move in that positive direction. That is definitely our heart in this office and also as a community, we want our students to be part of this and shift the culture.”

Tucker wants students to be aware that the survey conducted, as well as the other changes made in the Title IX office, were made for the Baylor community to demonstrate how much Baylor cares for its students.

“I think overall something I want students to know about our office, and me, and each of our hearts is how much we care about this community and care about these students, and we are working diligently to try and make it and make Baylor even better and serve our students and faculty in the best way possible,” Tucker said.