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The NCAA defines the repeat-violator legislation (a.k.a. the death penalty) as the power to ban a school from participating in a sport for one year after the announcement of a second major violation within a five year frame of the first major violation. The second case does not have to be related to the same sport. The punishment is exclusion for one, or two, seasons for the sport that is involved in the most current violation. Coaching staffs are banned from participating directly, or indirectly, in all coaching activities during this period. Initial grants-in-aid and recruiting activities must cease for two years. Any staff member serving on any NCAA governing body must resign from their position and the university will not be allowed to serve for a period of four years. The university will also forfeit their Association voting privilege for four years.
It’s harsh. It’s crippling.
It’s needed now more than ever.
Since 2011 Baylor has fostered an environment that breeds sexual misconduct as well as empowering their players with a God-complex mentality. The University has made a conscious decision time and time again to pick athletics over the safety of students and the development of student-athletes. Their habitual habit of only punishing authoritative figures under public pressure is irresponsible and reprehensible.
In April of 2012 a student claimed that she was raped twice at a party by a Baylor football player. In 2014 that player was convicted on two counts of sexual assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison as well as a $20,000 fine. The victim would go on to sue Baylor in 2016 alleging that officials did not investigate her claims.
Sadly, this isn’t the only story that has come from Baylor’s campus.
In October 2013 a female Baylor soccer player claimed that she was sexually assaulted by a football player. In 2015 that player was convicted and served six months in jail and 10 years of probation. He also must complete 400 hours of community service and register as a sex offender. After being indicted the football player was still allowed to participate in certain team activities. Reports have also alleged that the player had transferred to Baylor from Boise State due to allegations from another female claiming that he was violent towards her. Baylor coach Art Briles was aware of that situation while the player was transferring to his program.
On July 20, 2016 an ex-Baylor football player was indicted by a grand jury of second-degree felony assault. The victim claimed that she met him at a bar and went back to his duplex. There she alleges that he “forcibly removed” her clothes and then forced her into his bed where the sexual assault occurred. The woman claimed to have left his apartment after the assault but left her underwear and an earring there. The case is still ongoing.
Baylor football may be at the center of this scandal but other programs have been in trouble with the law as well. In 2015 a men’s tennis player was a suspect in a sexual assault case. He did not participate in match play in the fall of 2015 nor the following spring.
Baylor’s ineptitude on handling cases was highlighted in an ESPN piece in 2016. In the piece police documents show that Baylor officials knew about many incidents that occurred with their players and failed to punish student athletes. It also claims that Waco PD went to extreme measures to hide these cases from the public. This included one investigating officer demanding that one case be removed from the computer system so that only people who had an interest to inquire could obtain the report.
The rabbit hole goes much deeper and included many more athletes, as the ESPN report explains. Accusations from domestic violence and gang rapes have been tied to the Baylor athletics program. Reports also show that it took the University three years to comply with a federal order to hire a full-time Title IX Coordinator.
Baylor hired Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton in 2015 to conduct an external and independent investigation on the responses to sexual and interpersonal claims. In 2016 Pepper Hamilton released their findings saying that ““Institutional failures at every level of Baylor’s administration impacted the response to individual cases and the Baylor community as a whole.”
After months of pressure Baylor finally fired head coach Art Briles in May 2016. Four days later Athletic Director Ian McCaw resigned. President and Chancellor Ken Starr also resigned in June 2016.
Adding to Baylor’s tone-deafness women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey addressed a home crowd after earning her 5ooth career win. Her remarks eluded to the sexual assault claims. Mulkey stated,
“If somebody is around you and they ever say ‘I will never send my daughter to Baylor,’ you knock them right in the face.”
Strong words from someone representing a department that’s swept sexual assault under the rug multiple times. Of course Kim doubled down on the comments only to walk it back later on. She said that her point was to not paint with a broad brush when speaking about Baylor. That might be true in most cases but when dealing with a university that has mishandled these allegations for the better part of a decade it’s safe to assume the worst.
Athletes getting away with sexual assault isn’t anything new. For decades athletes have been coddled to think that they are entitled to women’s bodies and have been hidden under the “boys will be boys” mantra. Baylor’s ineptitude during the course of this decade is more than enough for the NCAA to hand out the death penalty. The question is, what’s taking so long?
The NCAA has a awful history of botching investigations. Either the punishment doesn’t fit the crime or the investigation falls into the abyss. It’s disheartening but it seems like the Baylor case is falling into the latter. It sends a clear message to victims that their voices won’t be heard.
A silence that has, and will be, deafening.
If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault there are resources here.
For a more, in-depth, look at the Baylor timeline click here.
As always, thanks for reading.