Former Baylor football coach Art Briles, who was fired last year after the university’s investigation of its handling of allegations of sexual assault by students, was hired Monday as an assistant coach by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
Former Hawaii and SMU coach June Jones, who was named the Tiger-Cats’ new head coach on Thursday, hired Briles as the team’s assistant head coach for offense. The Tigers-Cats were 0-8 when former coach Kent Austin stepped down and Jones was promoted to head coach last week.
Briles, 61, has been out of coaching since May 2016, when Baylor officials suspended him with intent to terminate for his role in the school’s sexual assault scandal. He later reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Baylor, where he coached from 2008 to 2015.
Briles had a 65-37 record with the Bears and led them to a share of back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2013 and ’14.
The Tiger-Cats have quarterback Robert Griffin III, who played for Briles at Baylor, on their negotiation list, meaning they have exclusive rights to signing him if he wants to play in the CFL.
Baylor’s investigation into its handling of sexual violence complaints, amid publicity of several sexual assault and domestic violence allegations involving football players, culminated in May 2016 with the firing of Briles, the demotion of president Ken Starr and the suspension of Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw. Starr and McCaw left Baylor soon after.
Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, which was hired by the school’s board of regents to investigate whether the school properly handled allegations of sexual assault by students, including football players, was critical of the culture within the football program and Briles’ discipline of players. Pepper Hamilton’s findings described Baylor’s football players as being “above the rules” with “no culture of accountability for misconduct.”
According to a findings of fact released by Pepper Hamilton, the findings “reflect significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of athlete misconduct.” It also faulted the football team for not adequately vetting transfer students, including former Boise State defensive end Sam Ukwuachu and Penn State defensive end Shawn Oakman, who were accused of sexual assault at Baylor.
Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a former Baylor women’s soccer player in October 2013. An appeals court overturned his conviction in March, and the Texas criminal court of appeals is deciding whether to grant him a new trial. Ukwuachu transferred to Baylor after being dismissed by then-Boise State coach Chris Petersen in 2013. Boise State never gave details as to why Ukwuachu was kicked off the team.
Oakman, who transferred to Baylor after he was kicked off the team at Penn State, is accused of sexually assaulting a graduate student in April 2016. He has yet to go on trial to face second-degree felony sexual assault charges.
Two other former Baylor players, tight end Tre’Von Armstead and running back Myke Chatman, were indicted and arrested in March for allegedly sexually assaulting a Baylor student in 2013. Each is charged with three counts of second-degree felony sexual assault for an alleged incident that occurred when they were still playing for the Bears. In January 2014, former Baylor player Tevin Elliott was convicted of raping student Jasmin Hernandez at an off-campus party in 2012. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Elliott also was accused of physically assaulting or sexually assaulting four other women while he was enrolled at the school.
Earlier this month, Baylor settled a federal Title IX lawsuit filed by Hernandez, who was the first student to file a lawsuit against the school. Women who say they were sexually or physically assaulted while enrolled at Baylor filed four other Title IX lawsuits; the school has settled one other case. Baylor officials also reached financial settlements with three other women who said they were sexually assaulted while students there, including the former soccer player who said Ukwuachu assaulted her.
In an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi in September 2016, Briles said he accepted responsibility for the football program’s poor handling of sexual assault allegations involving players.
“There were some bad things that happened under my watch,” Briles said. “And for that, I’m sorry. … I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m going to learn. I’m going to get better.”
Briles said he understood why victims at the hands of players on his team would be upset with him.
“I’d tell them I’m extremely sorry. It just appalls me that somebody could victimize another human being. And there’s no place in society for it. And I’ve never condoned it and never will and never put up with it,” he said.
“These players are part of our program and representatives of our program. And when they do wrong, then it reflects on me and the university. So I do feel responsibility.”