While Baylor’s public image has been reduced to rubble in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that has blown up the football program, there are still supporters of the deposed head coach at Baylor. Reports on Monday morning indicated Art Briles still had support from some of the wealthiest members on the university’s Board of Regents. Some trustees could reportedly push to give Briles a one-year suspension rather than have the university wipe its hands clean of him altogether.
By responding to those reports, the school’s interim president, David Garland, is seeking to distance himself from that idea. Garland told Dallas-based WFAA-TV that a Monday conference call with the board was previously scheduled and was not called to decide what to do with Briles.
“I was really caught off guard by all this,” Garland told WFAA Sports. “The meeting was scheduled before, and for a quite different issue.”
Garland said law firm Pepper Hamilton’s recommendations for the private, Baptist university in Waco, Texas, should be “mandates.”
“My goal is that we become a model for the rest of the country, of how to address these issues,” he said. “This is not an institution of football. It is an institution of higher education, and we happen to play football. Our major mission is to educate students. That’s what we want the focus to be on. And also to protect the safety of our students.”
Using language supportive of the victims, “who now become survivors,” Garland said the university cannot release details of individual cases Pepper Hamilton investigated because it would be too easy to identify the people involved.
Admitting some boosters have floated the idea of bringing Briles back, Garland said the school has priorities beyond the gridiron.
“A lot of fans love what the coach did on the football field, and you can understand that,” Garland said. “But other factors have to be taken into consideration.”