Art Briles was relieved of his duties as Baylor football’s head coach in late May, his dismissal the result of a national scandal involving two sexual assault convictions, and a number of additional accusations of both sexual assault and domestic violence that involved players Briles brought to Waco.
His relationship with the school formally ended shortly thereafter. Briles admitted “serious shortcomings” in his program when his official dismissal was announced in June. Pepper Hamilton, the law firm hired by the university after the trial of Samuel Ukwuachu, found “specific failings within both the football program and Athletics Department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player, to take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, and to take action in response to a report of dating violence.” The firm also declared that it had “significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of athlete misconduct.”
The report from Pepper Hamilton said that “the choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University. In certain instances, including reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, athletics and football personnel affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence and dating violence to an appropriate administrator outside of athletics.” It noted that “Football staff conducted their own untrained internal inquiries, outside of policy, which improperly discredited complainants and denied them the right to a fair, impartial and informed investigation, interim measures or processes promised under University policy,” and that “[f]ootball coaches and staff took affirmative steps to maintain internal control over discipline of players and to actively divert cases from the student conduct or criminal processes. In some cases, football coaches and staff had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules, and that there was no culture of accountability for misconduct.”
But no matter. As NFL training camps opened across the country in recent weeks, Briles has been welcomed as a guest of the following teams:
- Tennessee Titans
- Cleveland Browns
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Los Angeles Rams
- Dallas Cowboys
Former Baylor coach Art Briles on Titans sidelines today. Was here in May for OTA as well. pic.twitter.com/x8hsUYpFOw
— John Glennon (@glennonsports) August 1, 2016
In Tennessee, Briles enjoyed an afternoon on the sidelines watching former Baylor star receiver Kendall Wright run routes. In Cleveland, he posed for a photo with former Baylor Bears Corey Coleman, Spencer Drango, Robert Griffin III, and Josh Gordon. (Gordon received harsh discipline for drug-related offenses while at Baylor, and ultimately left the program early to enter the NFL after being indefinitely suspended by Briles.) In Cincinnati, Briles saw former Baylor defensive lineman Andrew Billings, and in Los Angeles, Briles visited linebacker Bryce Hager, who went from green and gold to blue and gold after being taken in the seventh round of the 2015 draft.
— Cleveland Browns (@ClevelandBRRown) August 3, 2016
In Oxnard, California, where the Cowboys practice, Briles had the opportunity to defend his character. “I’ve always lived my life in a righteous manner,” he insisted when asked about his dismissal from Baylor, and proclaimed that he was “dumbfounded” about his current unemployment. He went on to say that he anticipated being back on the sidelines as more than just a visiting guest by November or December.
Former Baylor coach Art Briles at Cowboys camp, talking with Stephen Jones. pic.twitter.com/sWsWIA4omS
— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) August 9, 2016
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also weighed in on the coach who, according to the investigation commissioned by his own school, “failed to identify and maintain controls over known risks, and unreasonably accepted known risks” and “did not set the tone, establish a policy or practice for reporting and documenting significant misconduct.”
“I would vouch for him as a person,” Jones said of Briles. “He’s a top-quality person. I’d want my grandson, if he had the chance, to play for him.”