Baylor fined $2 million by Big 12 following conclusion of verification process

Baylor University President Dr. Linda Livingstone speaks to the media at a regents meeting in summer of 2017. Livingstone notified the Baylor community that the Big 12 Conference has verified the university following an independent review of Pepper Hamilton's 105 recommendations. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Ben Everett | Sports Editor

On Tuesday morning, the Big 12 Conference announced it has concluded its verification process of Baylor University, and the conference will ultimately fine the university $2 million for reputational damage and $1.65 million for legal fees.

Following the school’s sexual assault scandal that saw head football coach Art Briles fired and president Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw resign, the school has been unanimously verified by the Big 12 Conference in compliance with the conference’s bylaws following a third-party review.

Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone sent out an email this morning to the student body regarding the completion of the verification process.

“I am pleased to report that the Big 12 Conference has completed its Verification Review of Baylor University’s 105 recommendations in response to past reports of sexual assault and interpersonal violence within our campus community and has confirmed all recommendations as complete and implemented,” Livingstone said. “Additionally, the Big 12 has affirmed Baylor’s compliance with all relevant conference bylaws and the University’s receipt of full league financial distributions moving forward.”

In 2016, Baylor hired law firm Pepper Hamilton to investigate the university and its practices. Pepper Hamilton devised a list of 105 recommendations for the university to implement in the wake of the sexual assault scandal.

In February 2017, the Big 12 announced it would withhold 25 percent of its revenue distribution from Baylor until the conference had completed a verification process in which it deemed the 105 recommendations were being implemented. Through an independent review, the verification team found that Baylor had implemented those recommendations, as of Tuesday.

“The Verification Team is of the opinion that Baylor has in all material respects structurally completed and practically implemented the (105 Pepper Hamilton) Recommendations as of the date hereof,” the verification report said. “Whether the recommendations that require future action or are aspirational in nature will continue to be implemented in a sustainable manner will only be verifiable over time.”

From February 2017 to now, the Big 12 has withheld $14.25 million in revenue from Baylor. The university will be required to reimburse the conference for legal fees in the amount of $1.65 million. The remaining $12.6 million will be invested and those earnings will be distributed to the Big 12 schools on an annual basis. The disbursements will be used for “funding campus-wide and athletics prevention efforts focused on sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking, including, but not limited to, programming addressing healthy relationships, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and bystander awareness,” the Big 12 said in a press release Tuesday morning.

In verifying the university, the Big 12 will no longer withhold revenue. Big 12 Board of Directors chairman and West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said the conference supports Baylor’s new leadership, including Livingstone and athletic director Mack Rhoades.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Baylor president Linda Livingstone, athletics director Mack Rhoades, and their staffs for their cooperation during this Verification Process,” Gee said. “We are in full support of Baylor leadership and have confidence they are moving the university forward from this chapter.”