A glowing press release from the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced this morning that they have hired former Baylor head football coach Art Briles to be the Assistant Head Coach Offence.
I know people wonder what I’m thinking in moments like this so here are my thoughts.
I have always assumed Briles would coach again. He’s very good at what he does and, if my work has taught me anything, it’s that teams care more about winning (and, in turn, making money) than basically anything else. You should always take the most cynical attitude towards any decision a team’s management will make. Dan and I have long talked about this, and wondered what it would look like if it happened, and it always made the most sense that if he did get into coaching again, it’d probably be on the professional level — putting him in charge of employees rather than student-athletes makes sense given the reason he was fired from his last job.
If you are new to this story, this is the post you should read: http://deadspin.com/lawsuit-text-messages-show-how-baylor-coaches-turned-f-1791947070. It’s about the most damning information Baylor released about the choices Briles and his staff made regarding reports of violence, including gang rape, by their players.
That information came out of a legal filing Baylor and some of its regents made to a defamation suit brought by an athletic official who was fired following law firm Pepper Hamilton’s external investigation of the university (you can read the full legal filing at the Deadspin link above).
Here’s the part I think about the most, probably, from that filing***:
The earliest report of a gang rape surfaced in April 2013, when a Baylor student-athlete confided to her coach that five football players had raped her at an off-campus party in early 2012. According to the coach, the student-athlete told him that the incident started with one football player and the other players were soon “all over her.” She identified each player who had participated. The coach wrote the names on a piece of paper.
Assuring the student-athlete he would make sure this would never happen to her again, the coach went immediately to Ian McCaw. The Athletics Director listened to the coach describe the student-athlete’s accusation and looked at the list of names the coach had compiled. McCaw then told him to go to Coach Briles.
When he did, Coach Briles studied the names on the piece of paper. “Those are some bad dudes,” Coach Briles told the coach. “Why was she around those guys?” Coach Briles offered no defense of his players and told the coach he should have his student-athlete inform the police and prosecute.
McCaw left Baylor shortly after Briles was fired. He has since been hired as the Athletic Director at Liberty.
*** I received an email after this post went up. There are disputes about what all happened with this case. From November 2016, Baylor assistants dispute claim that ex-coach Art Briles didn’t report alleged gang rape:
According to the assistant football coaches’ statement, McCaw instructed the head coach to report the incident to Baylor’s office of judicial affairs, which the coach did. The assistant coaches claimed Briles wasn’t made aware of the incident involving football players and the alleged victim until nine months after the alleged incident occurred.
According to the statement, the alleged victim’s coach informed Briles that he reported the incident to McCaw and judicial affairs. The statement said, “Briles told [the victim’s coach] to report it to the police and prosecute the players if there was any wrongdoing.”
The Baylor assistant coaches claimed in the statement that the victim’s coach later said, “I think Coach Briles handled the matter honorably and with the serious attention it deserved.” The statement claims that the woman’s coach also stated that “Briles followed up” and was informed that the alleged victim did not want to report the incident to police.
UPDATE: “In March 2016, the team promoted Eric Tillman to general manager. Tillman, who has been with the Tiger-Cats since 2013, pleaded guilty in January 2010, to sexually assaulting a teenage babysitter.”
UPDATE: Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell defends hiring of Art Briles: http://3downnation.com/2017/08/28/ticats-ceo-scott-mitchell-defends-hiring-art-briles/
It’s been a long deliberation internally, collecting information, talking to as many people as possible, quite frankly getting the facts about things straightened away. The history is that June Jones and Art Briles have known each other for decades and June was very forthright about what the situation was and the more we contemplated it, deliberated over it — and obviously I spoke to Bob Young about it as well –we just thought it was a very serious situation but we also felt that after talking to dozens of people, people we trust, people we admire, that Art Briles a is a good man that was caught in a very bad situation. Clearly, some serious mistakes were made along the way but we feel strongly that people deserve second chances and that’s what we’ve decided to do with Art Briles.
One wonders who made that situation in which people got caught.
The whole interview is enlightening if you want to understand the Tiger-Cats’ decision-making on this hire. It is certainly the Tiger-Cats’ administration place to decide if they feel Briles is worthy of a second chance at their organization.