Baylor releases 5 signees to transfer without restrictions

WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor is releasing five incoming freshman players from their national letters of intent and allowing them to attend other schools without losing eligibility.

The players were not identified in Baylor’s news release Thursday, but all requested release prior to May 31, according to the school. The requests came after the Baylor board of regents fired coach Art Briles following the release of a report commissioned by the school that found he and other university leaders inappropriately handled sexual assault allegations by female students.

Without a release from Baylor, the players could have had to sit out their freshmen seasons and lose a year of eligibility if they chose to attend another school. The signees could have requested a waiver from the NCAA to allow them to play immediately and retain full eligibility.

“I wanted the opportunity to talk with our signees and their families before providing any releases,” Baylor acting head coach Jim Grobe said in a statement. “This has never been about whether or not we would ultimately provide individuals with a release; we simply asked that we go through the process outlined by the NLI, take some time and have the chance to speak with the student-athletes and their parents. I’ve enjoyed those opportunities to meet with these families and wish each individual success in all that they do in life.”

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Baylor signed 22 players in February in what was one of the highest-rated recruiting classes in the history for the program.

Baylor said several members of the 2016 class are enrolled in summer school and participating in the Bears’ strength and conditioning program. Additional class members are expected to join the program in July.

“I am very impressed with the young men who are here at Baylor and on our team,” Grobe said. “We have great student-athletes who are working hard, committed to success and being a part of something special. I am committed to each one in their pursuit of academic and athletic excellence.”

Several top-rated players from Baylor’s class are reportedly bailing on the Bears, including a highly touted wide receiver who did not need a release from his letter of intent.

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Baylor failed to submit paperwork on time to the Big 12 on Devin Duvernay from Sachse, and he officially signed with Texas on Thursday.

ESPN has reported that Patrick Hudson, J.P. Urquidez, Jared Atkinson, Kameron Martin, Parrish Cobb and Donovan Duvernay, Devin’s brother, also requested a release.