By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Former Baylor University football coach Art Briles admitted to making mistakes on Thursday in his first statement since being dismissed from the world's largest Baptist university over a sexual abuse scandal involving athletes at the Texas school.
Baylor said last week it would begin the process to fire Briles, who transformed the moribund football program into a national power, after an independent report found administrators mishandled sexual abuse cases involving football players.
"I have certainly made mistakes and, in hindsight, I would have done certain things differently," Briles said in a statement released to Waco TV broadcaster KWTX.
"My heart goes out to the victims for the pain that they have endured," he said, adding he is obligated at this time to refrain from commenting on the content of the report.
Baylor has faced criticism in local media and among some alumni for putting too much emphasis on building a winning football team at the expense of the university's Christian mission.
A day earlier, former Baylor University president, Kenneth Starr, resigned as chancellor after being implicated in the report for failing to do enough to probe sexual assaults by athletes.
Starr, who rose to prominence for his exhaustive investigation of sex scandals surrounding then-President Bill Clinton, was fired as president last week along with Briles. He will keep his post as a professor in Baylor's law school.
The investigation found actions by Baylor administrators directly discouraged students from reporting sexual assaults. In one case, the actions included retaliating against a complainant for reporting a sexual assault
Starr, who had been Baylor's president since 2010, also claimed he was unaware of sexual assaults at Baylor until a former football player was convicted of the crime in 2015.
In an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" broadcast on Wednesday, Starr said sexual violence at Baylor "hasn't really been (an issue), to my knowledge, until August of 2015" in reference to the trial and conviction of the football player.
But a U.S. Department of Education open records site shows there were eight cases of forcible sexual offenses and four more of rape reported on campus between 2012 and 2014 and 10 sexual offenses, including three rapes, off campus in the same period.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)