NCAA infractions panel outlines reasons for Baylor decision

The NCAA Committee on Infractions handed Baylor probation and other penalties Wednesday tied to the school’s sexual assault scandal. The panel says it could not punish Baylor for major rules violations because of how the rules are structured and applied. Select quotes from the NCAA (the head coach referred to in the full report is Art Briles, who is no longer at Baylor):

“(T)he allegations at the heart of this case centered on conduct never before presented to the COI — namely, that Baylor shielded football student-athletes from the institution’s disciplinary process and failed to report allegations of abhorrent misconduct by football student-athletes, including instances of sexual and interpersonal violence. Baylor admitted to moral and ethical failings in its handling of sexual violence on campus but argued that those failings, however egregious, did not constitute violations of NCAA legislation. Ultimately, and with tremendous reluctance, this panel agrees.”

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“(N)on-reporting and mishandling of sexual violence allegations at Baylor was not limited solely to athletics. Baylor admitted that failure to report sexual violence was a campus-wide problem. Both the Margolis Healy and Pepper Hamilton reviews found widespread institutional failings in Baylor’s Title IX compliance, including a total failure to train faculty and staff on their reporting obligations. This was, in the words of Baylor’s former president, “a colossal operational failure.” And prior to 2015, Baylor had no institutional Title IX policy and no mandatory reporting requirements.”

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“In each instance, when the head coach received information from a staff member regarding potential criminal conduct by a football student-athlete, he did not report the information and did not personally look any further into the matter. He generally relied on the information provided to him by his staff and likewise relied on them to handle problems. His incurious attitude toward potential criminal conduct by his student-athletes was deeply troubling to the panel.”

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“The head coach failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case. Furthermore, as a campus leader, the head coach is held to an even higher standard. He completely failed to meet this standard. However, there is no linkage between this conduct and Level I or II NCAA violations.”

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“The panel also considered whether Baylor’s admitted failures in handling campus sexual violence, standing alone, demonstrated that the institution lacked control. … In the most literal sense, therefore, it appears that Baylor lacked institutional control. But Constitution 2 and 6 address the control of an institution’s athletics program. Thus, it is not clear to the panel that these constitutional provisions are intended to reach the kind of widespread institutional failings that are at issue in this case, even when some of those failings occurred within the institution’s athletics department.”

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