December 8, 2016
Former Baylor University coach Art Briles — who was fired this year amid a scandal over the school’s handling of allegations of sexual assault against football players — has sued three university regents and a school employee for libel, according to reports.
Briles claims in the suit that Board of Regents Chairman Ronald Murff, Regent J. Cary Gray, Regent David Harper and Senior Vice President Reagan Ramsower falsely told journalists that Briles knew about allegations of sexual assault against athletes and didn’t report them.
The lawsuit was first reported by the Associated Press and the KWTX television station in Waco. It was filed in state district court in Llano County.
Regents Murff and Gray were quoted in a Wall Street Journal article in October saying that 19 football players had been accused of assault or rape since 2011. The regents told the newspaper that Briles knew about at least one alleged incident but didn’t alert police or school staff members who were tasked with handling allegations of sexual violence. In a closed-door meeting before Briles was fired, he tearfully said he “delegated down, and I know that I shouldn’t have” but didn’t admit specific wrongdoing, regents told the newspaper.
Briles told the board that “I had a system where I was the last to know, and I should have been the first to know,” one regent said.
Briles denies those claims in the suit, according to KWTX.
“These new allegations made in the Wall Street Journal are false and were manufactured by Bunting to re-create the story line expose Coach Briles to public hatred, contempt, ridicule and cause him financial injury,” the suit says, according to KWTX. “The purpose was to provide a newly created story line replete with details of false information and defamatory statements about Coach Briles.”
The suit says the statements by the defendants are so damaging that Briles may not be able to find a new job, KWTX reported.
Briles, the most successful football coach in Baylor history, has made clear that he would like to coach again. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the open job at the University of Houston, but school officials there have made clear that he isn’t being considered.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2016/12/08/former-football-coach-art-briles-sues-baylor-unive/.