June 25, 2024

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Art Shines Through

The timeline of Art Briles’ downfall at Baylor before his hire at Grambling State

More than five years after Baylor fired football coach Art Briles, following a scathing review by a law firm that investigated how the university and his football program responded to allegations of sexual assault against his players, he will return to a Division I team this coming season.

Briles, 66, was hired as Grambling State’s new offensive coordinator on Thursday. Athletic director Trayvean Scott said he did his “homework” before approving new coach Hue Jackson’s selection.

“I think [Briles] just wants to coach and lead men,” Scott told ESPN when asked specifically about what made him comfortable about hiring Briles when many other schools and organizations haven’t been. “We’re not talking about a perfect situation or devaluing things done in the past and how it has affected people. He’s sympathetic and empathetic about what went on.”

Here’s a look back at what transpired at Baylor during Briles’ tenure, when a wave of sexual assault allegations against his players and “no culture of accountability for misconduct” — as an official investigation in his program put it — led to the dismissals of the school’s most successful football coach, its athletic director and president.

Nov. 28, 2007: Baylor hires Briles, who was the head coach at Houston, to lead its program. He inherited a Bears team that had gone 35-101 in the Big 12 era, with zero bowl game appearances since 1994.

April 15, 2012: Football player Tevin Elliott rapes a female Baylor student outside an off-campus party in Waco, Texas. The student reports the assault to police and a sexual assault nurse later that morning. Another former Baylor student alleges being gang raped by 10 to 15 other football players at the same party. Elliott is suspended 12 days later for an “unspecified violation” of team rules and is arrested three days after that.

March 2, 2013: A female student trainer with the football team accuses football player Shamycheal Chatman of sexually assaulting her. No criminal charges are filed. Baylor officials outside athletics move the trainer to another sport.

April 2013: A Baylor volleyball player tells then-volleyball coach Jim Barnes that five football players raped her at an off-campus party earlier that year. Barnes shares the alleged assailants’ names with athletic director Ian McCaw and Briles.

April 20, 2013: A member of the Baylor Bears recruiting hostess program alleges that football players Tre’Von Armstead and Chatman sexually assaulted her at her apartment following a party for the school’s annual Diadeloso celebration.

Oct. 19, 2013: A Baylor women’s soccer player accuses defensive end Sam Ukwuachu of raping her at his apartment. She notifies police and has a sexual assault exam the next day. About two months later, the school’s chief judicial affairs officer rules that the soccer player’s allegations couldn’t be proved by a “preponderance of evidence” and declines to pursue student conduct charges against Ukwuachu.

Nov. 14, 2013: En route to an 11-2 record and Big 12 title in 2013, Briles agrees to a new 10-year deal. Financial terms weren’t released since Baylor is a private school. USA Today later reported Briles made nearly $6 million in total compensation in 2014, according to the university’s federal tax return.

Dec. 7, 2013: In their final game at Floyd Casey Stadium, the Bears defeat Texas 30-10 to clinch the Big 12 title, their first conference championship since 1980. Though they would fall to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl, the 11-2 campaign still goes down as arguably the best in Baylor history.

Jan. 23, 2014: A jury in Waco convicts Elliott on two felony counts of sexually assaulting a female student at the party in 2012. The jury rejected Elliott’s defense that the incident was consensual. During the trial, three other women testified that Elliott also sexually assaulted them. A state court judge sentences him to the maximum 20 years in prison.

April 5, 2014: Another Baylor student tells police that football player Devin Chafin physically assaulted her during an argument. She alleges he choked her, slammed her against a wall and kicked her. No criminal charges were filed against Chafin.

Aug. 31, 2014: Baylor’s football team defeats Southern Methodist University, 45-0, in the first game played at McLane Stadium, the university’s new $266 million venue on the banks of the Brazos River. The stadium is named in honor of alumnus and billionaire Drayton McLane Jr., who provided the largest financial gift toward construction.

Nov. 18, 2014: Patty Crawford becomes Baylor’s first full-time Title IX coordinator. She previously worked as chief of staff and manager of special projects at Indiana University East in Richmond, Indiana.

Dec. 6, 2014: Baylor wins its second straight Big 12 championship with a 38-27 victory against Kansas State. Though the Bears defeated rival TCU 61-58 during the regular season, the 11-1 teams are deemed league co-champions, and neither team makes the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Aug. 20, 2015: A jury convicts Ukwuachu, a transfer from Boise State, of sexually assaulting the former women’s soccer player. He is sentenced to 180 days in county jail and 10 years’ probation; the maximum incarceration allowed under Texas law when a jury recommends probation. He served more than two months before being released on a $100,000 appeal bond.

Aug. 21, 2015: Baylor president and chancellor Ken Starr orders Baylor law professor Jeremy Counseller to conduct an internal inquiry into how the university handled the sexual assault allegations against Ukwuachu.

Sept. 2, 2015: Baylor retains a Philadelphia law firm, Pepper Hamilton LLP, to conduct a “thorough and independent external investigation into the university’s handling of cases of alleged sexual violence.”

Starr releases a letter to the Baylor community a day later. “Some have concluded that we could have done more,” Starr wrote. “Perhaps so. Our independent investigation will soon reveal if opportunities exist for improvements in the way we respond to allegations of sexual violence.”

Sept. 18, 2015: Armstead is suspended from the Baylor football team for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Dec. 31, 2015: The former Baylor soccer player who said she was sexually assaulted by Ukwuachu reportedly reaches an undisclosed financial settlement with the university.

Jan. 31, 2016: ESPN reports that Baylor officials either failed to investigate, or adequately investigate, allegations of sexual violence made by two women against Elliott. Both women said they were informed that as many as six women had reported being assaulted by Elliott. The report also reveals Baylor University took nearly three years to comply with a federal directive to hire a Title IX coordinator.

Feb. 3, 2016: Armstead is expelled from Baylor. He appeals but is denied on April 5, 2016.

March 30, 2016: The former Baylor student who reported she had been raped by Elliott files a federal Title IX complaint against the school and officials, including Briles and McCaw. She claims the school knew Elliott had a history of assaults and failed to protect her and other women.

April 13, 2016: Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman, a transfer from Penn State, is arrested on a sexual assault charge. A Baylor grad student alleges Oakman forced her to have sex with him after they met at a Waco nightclub. Oakman told police the sex was consensual. He was later found not guilty of the charges by a jury.

April 14, 2016: ESPN reports that Baylor did not investigate sexual assault allegations made against Armstead and Chatman for more than two years. While the school didn’t begin looking into the allegations until September 2015, a Waco police report indicates it informed Baylor officials of the incident when it occurred back in April 2013.

May 23, 2016: The Baylor regents vote 24-6 to recommend suspending Briles with intent to terminate for cause and 26-4 to seek McCaw’s resignation. The next day, Briles and McCaw are invited to a meeting to defend themselves. The regents vote on May 25 to place McCaw on probation with sanction, and a motion to reverse the decision to fire Briles fails by an “overwhelming majority.”

May 26, 2016: After receiving a comprehensive briefing of Pepper Hamilton’s findings, Baylor suspends Briles with intent to terminate. In addition, the university announces Starr will no longer serve as Baylor president, although he would remain at the school as chancellor and a law professor before resigning. McCaw is sanctioned and put on probation.

Richard Willis, chairman of the Baylor board of regents, says the board is “horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus” and “the depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us.”

Pepper Hamilton is critical of the culture within the football program and Briles’ discipline of players. Pepper Hamilton’s findings describe Baylor’s football players as being “above the rules” with “no culture of accountability for misconduct.”

May 30, 2016: Baylor hires former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe as its interim coach. McCaw resigns immediately after announcing Grobe’s hiring.

June 1, 2016: Starr resigns as chancellor.

June 7, 2016: Baylor’s Title IX office sends football player Jeremy Faulk a notice that he is the subject of an investigation. He found out days earlier that he and another player have been accused of sexually assaulting a female student in mid-April. No criminal charges are filed.

June 15, 2016: Three women who say they were victims of sexual assault, including one who said she was assaulted by a Bears football player on campus in April 2014, file the second federal lawsuit against Baylor. The lawsuit does not name any victims, who are identified as “Jane Does,” or alleged assailants, and it refers to Baylor employees only by position. The lawsuit, which has still not been settled, eventually includes 10 women who say they were sexually assaulted from 2004 to 2016.

June 17, 2016: Baylor reaches a financial settlement with Briles. The Dallas Morning News later reports that Briles received $15.1 million, Starr got $4.52 million and McCaw, who left to become Liberty’s athletic director, was paid $761,059. The Morning News obtained information about the payments through the university’s federal tax filings.

June 20, 2016: A woman files a Title IX lawsuit against Baylor, claiming the school created a “hunting ground” for sexual predators. The woman claims she was drugged and then sexually assaulted at an off-campus party.

July 13, 2016: Baylor hires Missouri’s Mack Rhoades as its new athletic director.

Sept. 10, 2016: In an interview with ESPN, Briles says he takes responsibility for the football program’s poor handling of sexual assault allegations against its players and says his “heart certainly aches” for victims.

“There were some bad things that happened under my watch,” Briles said. “And for that, I’m sorry. … I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m going to learn. I’m going to get better.”

Briles said he understood why victims of players on his team would be upset with him.

“I’d tell them I’m extremely sorry. It just appalls me that somebody could victimize another human being,” he said. “And there’s no place in society for it. And I’ve never condoned it and never will and never put up with it.

“These players are part of our program and representatives of our program. And when they do wrong, then it reflects on me and the university. So I do feel responsibility.”

Oct. 4, 2016: Baylor Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford resigns after having filed a federal Title IX complaint against the university. The university said in a statement that Crawford was disappointed in her role in implementing the 105 recommendations that resulted from the Pepper Hamilton findings.

Oct. 11, 2016: A former Baylor student who accused Chafin of physically assaulting her three times, files a federal Title IX lawsuit against the University. Her lawsuit alleges she told several people at the school — including a senior associate athletic director — of the assaults, but that her concerns were ignored and no one at Baylor conducted an investigation.

Nov. 22, 2016: Two women who reported being gang raped by multiple football players in 2012 reach an undisclosed financial settlement with the university. The women never filed a lawsuit. No details about the nature of the assaults, the players involved or the women who reported the rapes were released.

Dec. 8, 2016: Temple University’s Matt Rhule is hired as Baylor’s new football coach.

Jan. 27, 2017: The woman who reported being assaulted by Chatman and Armstead files a Title IX lawsuit against the school. The suit claims that Baylor fostered a culture of sexual violence that included 52 rapes in four years involving football players.

Feb. 8, 2017: The Big 12 board of directors votes to withhold 25% of Baylor’s future revenue distribution payments, potentially $8 million, until a third party verifies the school is making appropriate changes.

March 22-23 2017: Armstead and Chatman are criminally charged with second-degree sexual assault. Their cases would remain pending without action until being dismissed in 2021.

April 18, 2017: Baylor hires Linda A. Livingstone, the dean of George Washington’s School of Business, as its first female president in its 172-year history.

May 17, 2017: A former Baylor volleyball player who said she was gang raped by as many as eight football players files a federal Title IX lawsuit against Baylor. In the complaint, she alleges gang rapes were considered a “bonding experience for the football players.” The lawsuit was settled in 2018.

Aug. 28, 2017: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League hire Briles and then renege on the offer only hours later because of public backlash.

“Art Briles will no longer be joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a coach,” the CFL and the Tiger-Cats said in a joint statement. “We came to this decision this evening following a lengthy discussion between the league and the Hamilton organization. We wish Mr. Briles all the best in his future endeavours.”

Aug. 2, 2018: Briles is hired to coach the Guelfi Firenze, an American football team in Florence, Italy.

“It’s a chance to get back on the field,” he told ESPN. “I’m excited. I really am. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

Feb. 6, 2019: Southern Mississippi announces that Briles is no longer a candidate for its offensive coordinator position, despite head coach Jay Hopson publicly lobbying to hire him. “We have met with Art Briles regarding a position with the Southern Miss football program,” the school said in a statement.

“Following that meeting, we informed him that he is not a candidate. The university will have no further comment on this matter.” The university’s Committee on Services and Resources for Women said it was “adamantly opposed” to Briles’ potential hiring.

May 24, 2019: Mount Vernon Independent School District in East Texas approves a two-year contract with Briles to coach high school football. After going 20-6 over two seasons, he resigned in December 2020.

Oct. 9, 2020: The U.S. Department of Education fines Baylor University about $462,000 for violations of campus crime and safety rules after the school announced in 2017 that it was being investigated in light of public reports of sexual assaults on campus being higher than the numbers Baylor had officially reported.

Nov. 18, 2020: For the second time, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reverses a lower court’s decision and reinstates Ukwuachu’s 2015 sexual assault conviction.

Aug. 11, 2021: More than five years after Baylor fired Briles, the NCAA Committee on Infractions places the Bears on four years’ probation but rules that Briles and the university didn’t violate its rules by their inaction regarding allegations of sexual assault.

The Committee on Infractions said it could not conclude that Baylor or Briles violated NCAA rules by failing to report allegations of sexual and interpersonal violence committed on the campus. The committee noted that while a former Baylor president described the school’s handling of sexual violence as a “colossal operational failure,” current NCAA rules do not allow the Committee on Infractions to punish schools for how they handled such issues.

“Baylor admitted to moral and ethical failings in its handling of sexual and interpersonal violence on campus but argued those failings, however egregious, did not constitute violations of NCAA rules,” the committee wrote in its ruling. “Ultimately, and with tremendous reluctance, this panel agrees. To arrive at a different outcome would require the [committee] to ignore the rules the Association’s membership has adopted — rules under which the [committee] is required to adjudicate. Such an outcome would be antithetical to the integrity of the infractions process.”

Feb. 24, 2022: Grambling State coach Hue Jackson hires Briles as his offensive coordinator, marking Briles’ return to college football. Scott told ESPN he spent about 10 days researching Briles before formally supporting Jackson’s decision to hire him. He said Jackson has autonomy to bring forward coaching candidates, and Scott vetted Briles after Jackson suggested him.

“I’m rooted in fact,” Scott told ESPN’s Pete Thamel. “I know a lot of things are said and done. We felt it [was appropriate] to give him a chance to really redeem himself after understanding where the facts lie.”

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Paula Lavigne contributed to this report.