Former Baylor coach Art Briles’ incredibly brief tenure with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats earlier this week might have been spurred by his former employer.
Baylor fired Briles in May of 2016 as the school and athletic department’s inadequate response to sexual assault accusations began to be revealed. But in May, it wrote a letter, obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, supporting its former coach. That letter, according to the Telegram, helped Briles get the job with the CFL team.
“In particular, at this time we are unaware of any situation where you personally had contact with anyone who directly reported to you being the victim of sexual assault or that you directly discouraged the victim of an alleged sexual assault from reporting to law enforcement or University officials. Nor are we aware of any situation where you played a student athlete who had been found responsible for sexual assault.
The four-paragraph letter is dated May 23, 2017. Briles dropped a defamation suit he filed vs. Regents and a vice president at the school in February.
In what was revealed from the Pepper Hamilton investigation at the time of Briles’ firing last year, it said that “football coaches and staff had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules and that there was no culture of accountability for misconduct.”
Briles was the only member of the football coaching staff fired. That, among many other things, makes the recommendation letter incredibly curious. Interim coach Jim Grobe coached the 2016 season with Briles’ assistant coaching staff intact.
The letter comes approximately three months after Briles issued a statement saying he was not part of a sexual violence cover up at the school. Briles’ statement in early March came as the Texas Rangers began an investigation into the way Baylor dealt with the accusations of sexual assault.
A lawsuit filed in January alleged 52 rapes by football players between 2011 and 2014.
Court documents in a defamation suit filed by a former staffer earlier this year allege that Briles questioned why a woman was with “bad dudes” from the football team following her gang rape accusation.
Regents for the school said in a November Wall Street Journal report that Briles knew of an accusation of gang rape but didn’t report it to the school’s Title IX office.
In September, Briles appeared on ESPN and made an emotional apology while saying he doesn’t condone sexual violence, though he didn’t apologize for anything specific. Outside of his one-day CFL stint, Briles hasn’t had a coaching job since he was fired from Baylor.
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