WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor's assistant football coaches have disputed claims by school regents that former coach Art Briles knew of a gang rape involving a player.
Thirty-three assistant coaches and staff members issued a statement on Twitter on Friday expressing their support for Briles, who was fired in May, The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2fs7aJs ) reported. It was the first time the coaches had spoken publicly about the series of sexual assault claims at Baylor, some involving former football players.
Baylor regent David Harper and three other regents met with the newspaper's editorial board on Thursday, and Harper said Briles knew of the allegations of at least one gang rape.
But in their statement, the coaches said the alleged victim had reported an incident to her sport's head coach, who then reported it to ex-athletic director Ian McCaw. The coaches and staff members claim Briles wasn't told for another nine months and that Briles told the victim's coach to report the matter to police and to "prosecute the players if there was any wrongdoing."
The statement also said that the victim's coach had indicated that Briles "handled the matter honorably and with the serious attention it deserved."
Briles' attorney, Ernest Cannon, told the newspaper that Briles did "everything that he was required to" and that the statement "indicates that they didn't think that their leader was sinful."
An outside investigation found 17 women who had reported sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 Baylor athletes since 2011, including four reports of gang rapes. The investigation by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton found some players at the private school were alleged to have participated in a series of assaults over several years.
Baylor has previously said the review found that the football program operated as if it were above the rules.
McCaw resigned about the same time Briles was fired, and President Ken Starr was removed from his post by regents and later resigned as chancellor.
Briles was the only coach dismissed following the law firm's report, because he "delegated down discipline and he operated a system where he was the last to know when he needed to be the first to know," explained Baylor regent Cary Gray.
The law firm's report said "some football coaches and staff took improper steps in response to disclosures of sexual assault or dating violence that precluded the University from fulfilling its legal obligations."
No. 13 Baylor plays TCU on Saturday afternoon. Before the game, some fans sold black shirts outside McLane Stadium in Waco with the hashtag "#CAB," which stands for "Coach Art Briles."
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com