WACO—The Big 12 board of directors contacted Baylor University a second time June 22 to request all information from the Pepper Hamilton investigation into the university’s handling of sexual assault complaints—particularly related to Baylor’s athletic program.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent a letter to Baylor Interim President David Garland requesting not only written materials, but also any information the law firm conveyed verbally to the university’s board of regents and internal documents pertinent to the investigation, excluding the names of students involved.
Big 12 ‘gravely and deeply concerned’
The Big 12 board of directors stated it is “gravely and deeply concerned” about reports regarding how Baylor and its athletic department handled sexual violence allegations.
The investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm prompted Baylor’s board of regents to fire Head Football Coach Art Briles, demote President Ken Starr and sanction Athletic Director Ian McCaw, who subsequently resigned.
“All of our member universities consider student safety and security to be paramount among institutional responsibilities,” Bowlsby said. “The Big 12 board of directors, each member of the conference and its student-athletes want to convey that our thoughts, concerns and sympathies are with the Baylor survivors and their families.”
‘Full disclosure is vital’
The letter followed a May 24 request from the Big 12 board requesting a full accounting of circumstances surrounding sexual assaults at Baylor.
“At this time, the board is only privy to information that has been made available to the public,” according to a statement on the Big 12 sports website.
The Big 12 noted “the conference is appropriately concerned with discovery of the fact” and “full disclosure is vital.”
Garland contacted Bowlsby to acknowledge receipt of the letter, according to a statement from Baylor.
“Baylor is reviewing the Big 12’s request for additional information in light of Baylor’s obligations under federal privacy law and the commitment of confidentiality to the brave survivors who shared their experiences to help the university better understand its shortcomings,” the university statement said. “President Garland will seek an opportunity to sit down with Commissioner Bowlsby to personally discuss the investigation and the Big 12’s requests.
“Dr. Garland would like to reiterate that the Findings of Fact fully reflect the themes, core findings and failings identified in the investigation, while omitting the documentation of individual cases and names supporting these findings. Baylor’s board of regents chose to publicly release severely critical Findings of Fact because it believes it is in the best interest of the Baylor community to do so, regardless of the impact on current or potential civil litigation or regulatory action.”
Baylor self-reported to its constituents and to the NCAA and will maintain communication with the Big 12 Conference during the course of the NCAA investigation, the university stated.
“Baylor remains confident in the actions it has taken to ensure improvement in student safety and to help restore confidence that its priorities and values remain in the proper order,” the Baylor statement said. “We hope to not only apply what we learn and to approach the highest levels of prevention, response and support for students impacted by these acts, but also to share what we learn with other higher education institutions for the benefit of students everywhere.”