Baylor fires Art Briles

Published on Thursday, 5/26/16, at 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

The hammer dropped in Waco earlier today when Baylor University’s board of regents fired head football coach Art Briles and re-assigned school president Kenneth Starr amid an avalanche of criticism for the way the school mishandled sexual assault allegations made against football players.

Also, AD Ian McCaw has been placed on probation (whatever the hell that means?).

Former Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a Baylor women’s soccer player in 2015. Ukwuachu had been dismissed from Boise St.’s program by Chris Petersen in 2013 after he was accused of choking and repeatedly punching his former girlfriend in the head.

Briles claimed he was unaware of Ukwuachu’s violent history, but Petersen called him out on that point. Petersen said he made Briles fully aware of why Ukwuachu had been booted from his program.

Ukwuachu’s conviction prompted Starr to hire a law firm to investigate how the school responded to assault incidents. A summary of the law firm’s findings were released by the school this morning.

A statement from the school said the review revealed “a fundamental failure” and that the regents were “outraged” by the findings.

Briles’ dismissal brings an end to one of the most improbable on-field turnarounds in recent college football history. Before Briles arrived in Waco, the Bears had endured nine consecutive losing seasons. They hadn’t gone bowling since 1994.

On his watch, however, things turned around quickly. After Briles’ first two teams both went 4-8, Baylor posted a 7-6 record in 2010 and went to the Texas Bowl.

The program exploded on to the national scene in 2011 when Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy and led the Bears to 10 wins, including a 67-56 win over Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

Baylor finished 8-5 in 2012, beating UCLA 49-26 at the Holiday Bowl. Briles led the Bears to consecutive 11-2 campaigns in 2013 and 2014. In both years, they were a part of the national-title conversation throughout the season. Briles posted his fourth double-digit win season in the last five years when Baylor went 10-3 in 2015.

Early indications are that defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will be named the interim head coach later today. Kendal Briles, Art’s son, is expected to remain on the staff as offensive coordinator.

Baylor is considered a top-10 team this year by most pundits. Conventional wisdom would lead most to assume that Bennett and the rest of the staff will be gone at the end of the year.

Until the complete report of the findings are released, we’re only left to wonder what Briles did or didn’t do to prompt his dismissal. Until then, it’s impossible to speculate about his future in college football.

He posted a 65-37 record at Baylor and is 99-65 overall, but the pink slip handed his way today had nothing to do with wins or losses on the field.

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