Baylor awaits finalization on Big 12 revenue status

By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

Baylor University is making progress to gain back funding currently being withheld from the university until a review of requirements is complete. University president Linda Livingstone announced that Baylor is fully cooperating with the Big 12 in every aspect in order to receive finances from the conference.

Baylor hired Pepper Hamilton law firm in 2015 to do an independent investigation on sexual assault on and around Baylor’s campus and came up with 105 recommendations for the university to implement, in order to gain back some of its standing. The scandal resulted in former university president Ken Starr, former athletic director Ian McCaw and former head football coach Art Briles leaving the university.

The Big 12 Conference, since the investigation, has withheld 25 percent of Baylor’s revenue until the Pepper Hamilton recommendations are fulfilled and reviewed.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Associated Press that Baylor has made significant progress so far and the process can continue moving forward.

“Baylor’s done a tremendous job of responding to everything we’ve asked for,” Bowlsby said. “I think we’d like to move ahead as efficiently and as soon as we possibly can.”

At a press conference following Baylor’s Board of Regents meeting in May, Livingstone said she believes the university will continue working alongside the Big 12 to make sure it gets everything done that is left on the 105 recommendations. She is also optimistic that the rest of the lawsuits will be settled soon.

“In the near future, in general that’s how Bowlsby indicated it, and that’s certainly our understanding as well and so we are working with them and certainly very hopeful that that will be resolved in the not too distant future,” Livingstone said.

The Big 12 Conference announced in its Big 12 business meeting that it recorded a record $365 million in revenue. The 25 percent withheld from Baylor could be about $9 million this year, although West Virginia University president and chairman of the league’s board of directors E. Gordon Gee made it known this was not something made to penalize and hurt Baylor.

“This wasn’t about punishment. It was about all of us together working on a progress for one institution that will be helpful to all of us,” Gee said. “They have been very cooperative, and obviously we feel very strongly that Baylor is a very fine and committed member of our conference and they have done a great deal in terms of governance and structure.”

Previous defensive coordinator under Briles, Phil Bennett is one of the many coaches who left a year after Briles was fired. Bennett was interviewed on July 18 by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the scandal and life during the scandal.

“I think Baylor worked hard to treat students right. They were all a little glassy-eyed with our success … I say this again, I just felt the system was a failure to help anybody, us or the victims,” Bennett said.

Bennett is now taking a year off from coaching football after one season with the Arizona State Sun Devils.

McCaw, current athletic director for Liberty University, claimed the university commenced “an elaborate plan that essentially scapegoated black football players and the football program for being responsible for what was a decades-long, university-wide sexual assault scandal,” in a deposition as part of a Title IX lawsuit against the university on July 20.

In May 2017 Baylor announced the completion of the 105 recommendations from Pepper Hamilton and is working to regain its funding from the Big 12 Conference, which it has been a part of since the conference’s inception in 1997.