June 25, 2024


Art Shines Through

Grambling State head football coach Hue Jackson defends hiring of offensive coordinator Art Briles

Grambling State football coach Hue Jackson defended his hiring of new offensive coordinator Art Briles on Monday, after the school received criticism for the move because of campus-wide sexual assault allegations that led to an independent investigation and Briles’ firing at Baylor in 2016.

In a statement that was released on the letterhead of Jackson’s foundation on Feb. 25, Jackson wrote that the recent hiring of Briles was a testament to forgiveness, redemption and enlightenment.

“The Hue Jackson Foundation has been dedicated to fighting against ALL forms of sexual abuse and exploitation as well as other forms of racial and social bias,” Jackson wrote. “We have a clear understanding of the role that coaches and others who have a position of trust play in the lives of those they meet.

“We also know and understand the process of identifying risks, helping others to heal, and the importance of prevention. We believe that through the hiring of Coach Briles and the well-developed programs we have in place, this hire will be instrumental in teaching others the importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures, provide adequate resources to individuals who have been victimized and develop strong law enforcement partnerships within the community.”

Briles, 66, had been out of college coaching since May 2016, when Baylor officials suspended him with intent to terminate for his role after sexual assault allegations were made against students, including football players. He later reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Baylor, where he coached from 2008 to 2015, posting a 65-37 record and winning a share of back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2013 and 2014.

In an interview with KTAL-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Thursday, Briles was asked what he plans to do differently at Grambling State.

“I’ll do exactly what I’m required to do and what they expect of me, which is to be a very solid citizen, to be a positive leader on a day-in and day-out basis, to do everything I can do to protect our students and our student-athletes on campus and to represent the Grambling University to the best of my ability because I’m very humble and grateful to be at this university,” he said.

Former Tigers quarterback and coach Doug Williams and others have criticized Briles’ hiring.

“It certainly put me in a tough situation being a supporter of Grambling football,” Williams told ESPN’s John Keim. “I don’t know Art Briles, but it doesn’t sit well with me.”

Jackson, former coach of the Cleveland Browns, was hired as Grambling State’s coach in December.

“As we move forward together with Coach Briles, we ask that people keep in mind that no matter your views on this topic, please remember that people can and often do become re-traumatized and re-victimized by statements which may or may not be accurate,” Jackson’s statement said. “We will continue to support Coach Briles and all victims of assault, violence, social and racial injustices and we will continue to provide equal opportunity for healing for everyone.”

Jackson’s foundation reported that it received $158,672 in 2019, the most recent year in which tax filings are available. According to tax documents, nearly 75% of that money was spent on the salary of the foundation’s executive director — it’s only paid employee. The foundation spent another $15,000 on travel expenses. It paid $4,038 (roughly 2.5%) in grants and contributions to other organizations.

The foundation’s website says its mission is to fight human trafficking through “awareness, education and prevention” while assisting survivors. The most recent annual report about the foundation’s work on the website is from 2018. The report says the foundation donated $250,000 to open a shelter for survivors of human trafficking at a Salvation Army location in Cleveland. While none of the payments appear on the foundation’s tax forms, a representative from the Salvation Army confirmed that they received the full promised amount in $50,000 installments over the last five years.

Information from ESPN’s Dan Murphy was used in this report