Some Baylor assistants finding jobs and mixed reactions
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Former Baylor coach Art Briles conceded months ago that the sexual assault scandal that led to his firing likely ended his career.
That’s not the case for some of his former assistants, including his son.
At least three former assistants and staff members from last season have new jobs, while others are still looking as Baylor faces multiple lawsuits filed by alleged victims accusing the school of promoting “a culture of sexual violence.”
The reception at their new schools has ranged from quiet indifference to fan resistance strong enough to force one university, Texas, to defend the hire.
Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault survivor and activist, urged schools to stop hiring Briles’ former assistants until more details emerge either from Baylor or are forced out as the lawsuits proceed.
“I don’t think they should be coaching anywhere right now,” said Tracy, who met with Baylor players last year. “I’m really disappointed in these schools that think they need to hire them. There are other qualified people who we can be confident they can be men of character.”
Florida Atlantic hired Kendal Briles as the Owls’ offensive coordinator. Former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has the same position at Arizona State.
FAU officials declined comment on hiring Kendal Briles. Arizona State officials have said Bennett was “fully vetted” by the university’s human resources department and said, “We look forward to his contributions to our program.”
According to the Arizona Republic, new Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades provided Bennett a letter of recommendation that described him as a “valued person in the Baylor athletics family.” It was unclear if Rhoades wrote similar letters for other Baylor assistants. Baylor officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
At Texas, new Longhorns coach Tom Herman and school administrators have faced pushback from fans over the hiring of Casey Horny, a friend of Herman’s and a Baylor support staffer. He is now a $65,000-a year quality control assistant at Texas, a position that analyzes film.
The job wouldn’t create a ripple of publicity under normal circumstances. But fan reaction was swift, including an online petition and dozens of emails to administrators protesting the hire.
Angry Texas fans questioned Horny’s past support on social media for Art Briles, including tweeting the slogan “truthdontlie,” a phrase adopted by Briles’ defenders.
Last November, Horny, Kendal Briles and Bennett all were in a group of Baylor assistants who issued a statement refuting accounts from Baylor regents, who had laid much of the blame for the scandal on Art Briles .
“What message does this send to the female student body, faculty and staff of this great university?” asked one of dozens of emails sent to Texas President Greg Fenves and athletic director Mike Perrin.
Baylor fired Art Briles last May after the law firm Pepper Hamilton released a 13-page “Findings of Fact” from an investigation into allegations of sexual assault across campus. The report said the football program operated as if it was “above the rules” and made multiple references to unidentified football coaches interfering with or stifling assault investigations.
None of the Baylor assistants was identified by name in the report and the staff was allowed to stay. School regents later said the investigation found 17 women had reported sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 Baylor athletes since 2011, including four reports of gang rapes. In response to the report, Baylor fired Briles, and demoted former President Ken Starr, who later left the school. Baylor apologized to past victims and settled at least two lawsuits, but allowed Briles’ staff to remain for the 2016 season. Art Briles is suing Baylor officials for libel and defamation.
A new lawsuit filed last week alleges an even darker picture . A former Baylor student who said she was raped by two football players alleged in federal court there were at least 52 sexual assaults by as many as 31 football players over a four-year period, a far greater number of attacks than previously acknowledged by Baylor officials.
The lawsuit also claims the football program encouraged a “culture of drinking, drugs and sex.”
Art Briles’ attorney, Ernest Cannon, denied the lawsuit’s depictions of a lawless program that promoted sexual violence.
“If they were doing that it would be terrible, but they weren’t doing that,” Cannon said.
New coach Matt Rhule has hired his own assistants and the former Baylor staff who haven’t found work are under contract until May. Defensive back coach Carlton Buckels, who joined Baylor in 2011, declined comment on his job prospects.
At Texas, Perrin said he interviewed Horny “at length” and reviewed his background before approving the hire
“Like others, I question Coach Horny supporting some commentary on social media. After further discussion with Coach Horny, he understands such actions will not be tolerated at Texas,” Perrin said.
Herman later offered an even stronger defense of Horny, who he has known for 18 years.
“He had some uninformed and regrettable tweets that he’s apologized for,” Herman said in a recent radio interview.
“At the end of the day, those guys. ... because you wear a green pullover with a ‘BU’ on it doesn’t mean that you’re not given an opportunity to coach if you’ve been forthright in everything you’ve seen and done,” Herman said. “And Casey has certainly has passed all of those tests with flying colors.”