By Kalyn Story | Print Managing Editor
In response to a civil lawsuit by former Baylor student Delores Lozano, former Baylor head football coach Art Briles claims that he acted “quickly and consistently” to either suspend or remove players accused of sexual assault and domestic violence. In a court filing Thursday, he claimed that he dismissed 30 players for disciplinary reasons over his last six seasons at the school.
In the high-profile case of Tevin Elliott, who is currently serving 20 years in prison for two rape charges against a female Baylor athlete, Briles claimed that Baylor’s administration was aware of allegations of sexual assault against Elliott months before Briles and attempted to cover up the allegations. Briles stated that in an email from former Baylor Chief of Police Jim Doak to administrator Reagan Ramsower, Doak detailed an apology to the football program for not having provided information about Elliott’s history of being accused of assault. Briles claimed he suspended Elliott from the football team within days of learning of the sexual assault allegation against him, three days before Elliott was charged with sexual assault. But Briles said the university allowed Elliott to remain on campus for another 30 days after his removal from the football team.
Briles also claimed the Baylor Board of Regents attempted to place blame on the football team and coaches when the Baylor Police Department and administration covered up reports of sexual assault.
The defendants in the suit are Baylor, Briles, former athletic director Ian McCaw and the City of Waco. Lozano claims that between March and April of 2014 she was physically assaulted three times by her boyfriend Devin Chafin, who at the time was a member of Baylor’s football team.
Briles claimed there was a decade-long campuswide problem of sexual assault that started before he came to Baylor in 2007.
When negative attention escalated in 2015, Briles says a group of regents and administrators, specifically naming Ramsower, micromanaged the university in an effort to protect Baylor’s brand and tried to blame an out of control football team.
According to Briles’ court filing, on July 14, 2016, seven weeks after Baylor fired him, Patty Crawford, Baylor’s Title IX coordinator at the time, said in her two years at Baylor only a small percentage of cases out of nearly 300 sexual assault related cases had anything to do with athletics.
“I don’t think athletics is a big hotbed of issues,” Crawford said.
Briles also made several claims about the Board of Regents, stating that the regents wrote the Pepper Hamilton report for the law firm and purposely withheld information about the investigation from the public as well as the Title IX office.
Baylor denied Briles’ claims and defended the regents, saying that much of his response relies on hearsay and information that Baylor has already debunked.
“The continued efforts of Art Briles and his supporters over the past two years to rewrite history cannot go unchallenged,” the university said in a statement released Thursday. “Just as when he was coach, he again attempts to skirt responsibility for actions of the football program that he led, the players he recruited and coached, the coaches he managed and the loose discipline he championed.”
The university pointed out that Briles had previously admitted to mishandling cases of sexual assault allegations against football players.
“Briles’ selective memory overlooks the June 24, 2016, announcement of the termination of his employment relationship with Baylor, which states: ‘Both parties acknowledge that there were serious shortcomings in the response to reports of sexual violence by some student-athletes, including deficiencies in University processes and the delegation of disciplinary responsibilities within the football program,’” the university said in its statement.
In September 2016 in an interview with ESPN, Briles apologized and acknowledged that he made mistakes when it came to handling sexual assault allegations during his time at Baylor.
“There were some bad things that happened under my watch,” Briles said. “I was the captain of the ship. The captain of the ship goes down with it. You know, so I understand that I’ve made some mistakes. And for that, I’m sorry.”
Baylor remains confident in their commitment to its students and their safety.
“Since May 2016, Baylor has taken unprecedented actions and implemented significant infrastructure, training, education, and policies and procedures under new leadership in response to the issue of past and alleged interpersonal violence involving our campus community,” the university said. “Baylor’s unwavering commitment is to our students – to continue to educate, train and respond appropriately and work continuously to ensure a safe, supportive and healthy campus for all students.”