“While the N.C.A.A. process found violations that occurred between 2011 and 2016, we can confidently say Baylor is a much different university today than it was three, five and certainly 10 years ago,” the officials, President Linda A. Livingstone, and the athletic director, Mack B. Rhoades IV, wrote.
The allegations around Baylor’s football program, which have led to some criminal cases and convictions, were shocking in their scope and violence when they surged into the national consciousness in 2015 and 2016. University regents said years ago that at least 19 players had been accused of sexual misconduct since 2011, a figure that some people have suggested was an undercount, and investigators found that Baylor officials had tried to shield players from scrutiny by the university or law enforcement.
The crisis ultimately led to the resignations or firings of the university’s president, Ken Starr, who had been the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton; its football coach, Art Briles; and the athletic director, Ian McCaw.
Although the N.C.A.A. committee wrote that Briles had “failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case,” a lawyer for the coach said Wednesday that Briles had been “exonerated and cleared of all N.C.A.A. violations.” The lawyer, Scott Tompsett, added that Wednesday’s decision “clears the way for Mr. Briles to return to coaching college football.”
In a text message, McCaw said that it was “tragic that Baylor’s decades-long, campus-wide sexual assault scandal arose due to systemic failings.” Starr, who told the N.C.A.A. committee that Baylor’s shortcomings had amounted to “a colossal operational failure,” said Wednesday that he found the panel’s final report “very thorough.” He declined additional comment.
In addition to the scrutiny by the N.C.A.A., Baylor, whose campus is in Waco, Texas, has faced a criminal inquiry and a wave of civil litigation related to the sexual assaults. Baylor prevailed in one of those cases in June, when a jury in Houston determined that, under a state law, the university was not responsible for the sexual assault of a woman in 2017.
But Baylor has been penalized in other ways. In October, for instance, the U.S. Department of Education fined the university more than $461,000 in connection with violations of a federal law that governs campus crime statistics. The university has also reached settlements with some women who brought claims under Title IX, the federal law that effectively prohibits sexual harassment and assault in educational settings.