In June of 2017, the NCAA opened an investigation into the series of horrific events related to the sexual assault scandal surrounding the Baylor University football program. On Monday the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the investigation is complete, and the NCAA has officially submitted a formal notice of allegations against Baylor University. This formal notice “outlines the rules that the institution is alleged to have broken and describes the facts of the case.”
The Star-Telegram’s report indicated that former Baylor Head Football Coach Art Briles is among the individuals cited in the allegations for failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. The alleged failure on Briles’ part is a Level I violation of NCAA Division I Bylaw 188.8.131.52, which states ” states that a head coach is presumed to be responsible for the actions of all staff members who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach.” Additionally, the University is alleged to have shown a “lack of institutional control“, which is found when it is determined that “major violations occurred and the institution failed to display adequate compliance measures, appropriate education on those compliance measures, sufficient monitoring to ensure the compliance measures are followed, and swift action upon learning of a violation.”
Baylor has 90 days to respond in writing to the allegations, and once this is done, the NCAA has an additional 60 days to respond to Baylor. The Star-Telegram suggests that, based on the usual timeline in these cases, the situation could be resolved in the Spring of 2019.
What Is Next, and What To Expect
It is highly unlikely that the Baylor football program receives the “death penalty” from the NCAA. The NCAA states that the “death penalty“, which is a sanction that bans a university from participating in a particular sport for one to two seasons, is to be issued when a university commits a major rule violation within five years of the start date of a penalty for a prior major rule violation.
Though other schools have been sanctioned for a variety of other violations, the closest comparable to the events that took place at Baylor is the Penn State and Jerry Sandusky scandal. In that case, the Penn State football program was able to avoid the “death penalty” for a variety of reasons, including the fact that their student-athletes were innocent, the University accepted the penalties and took corrective action, removed all individual offenders from the program, and commissioned an independent investigation. A lot of parallels can be drawn from those facts to the action taken at Baylor. The student-athletes on the 2018 Baylor Bears football team were not the individuals committing the heinous acts from 2011 to 2014. Baylor, in a statement released upon the conclusion of Pepper Hamilton’s independent investigation commissioned by the University, stated that they have taken steps “and will take additional steps to address the deficiencies” in the implementation of Title IX and Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) within Baylor’s Football Program. Additionally, former Head Coach Art Briles, former University President Ken Starr, and former Athletic Director Ian McCaw are no longer with the University in any capacity. In addition to replacing Art Briles, new Head Coach Matt Rhule brought in an entirely new football staff to the Baylor program. While the University must still respond to the allegations, as previously mentioned, they still have the opportunity to accept the penalties levied against them.
If the allegations are proven to be true, the penalties issued could include any combination of scholarship reduction, post-season bans, recruiting restrictions, and other penalties the NCAA has issued over the years.
Photo Courtesy: Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports
My name is Joe Notartomas and I am a 2019 graduate from the University at Buffalo School of Law, with a particular interest in Corporate and Sports Law. I grew up in Southwest Florida, and before law school, earned my Bachelor's Degree from the University of Florida in 2014. Thanks for reading. - Joe