Art Briles dropped his libel suit against Baylor University on Wednesday, but that did not take him out of the spotlight. On Thursday, a response to another lawsuit filed by the school into court includes evidence that Briles and his staff were not only aware of but intervened in the discipline of players during his tenure with the Bears.
Emails and text messages filed as part of the response (the second libel suit was filed by former director of football operations Colin Shillinglaw) reveal that Briles, Shillinglaw, other assistant coaches and even former athletic director Ian McCaw were all tied to a pattern of covering up wrongdoing by arranging cooperation from authorities and legal representation.
Briles’ text messages, some of which can be read below, serve as particularly damning evidence to his claim of ignorance. In 2013, there are multiple examples of Shillinglaw texting Briles about a wide range of player legal incidents.
From the court filing, explaining the “see no-evil, report no-evil system” under which the team operated:
[Pepper Hamilton] found that such player misconduct had been systematically brushed off or kept away from Judicial Affairs – the University body charged with the responsibility of investigating and disciplining student misconduct. The football program was a black hole into which reports of misconduct such as drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure and academic fraud disappeared. In all, investigators compiled a lengthy list of such offenses, which had gone largely unknown to the rest of the University.
These cases showed that Coach Briles, Shillinglaw, and certain of his assistants had enabled a culture within the program that treated football players differently by making sure they would not face the normal disciplinary processes and consequences that regular students would have faced. The law firm found evidence that Briles relied on Shillinglaw to line up legal representation for players who had run-ins with the law.
The court filing, obtained and published in full by the Dallas Morning News, tied Briles to numerous disciplinary situations between 2011-15 through his text message interactions and other university documentation. Briles was frequently concerned with making sure that matters weren’t reported to judicial affairs, handled internally depending on the severity of the situation.
On September 13 2013, Shillinglaw sent a text to Coach Briles about a player who got a massage and “supposedly exposed himself and asked for favors. She [masseuse] has a lawyer but wants us to handle with discipline and counseling.” Coach Briles’ first response was “What kind of discipline… She a stripper?” When Shillinglaw said the player made the request at a salon and spa while getting a massage, Coach Briles wrote, “Not quite as bad.”
Another particularly damning example ties Briles, Shillinglaw, McCaw and the Waco police together in the effort to quiet an assault charge.
On September 20, 2013, after a player was arrested for assault and threatening to kill a non-athlete, a football operations staff official tried to talk the victim out of pressing criminal charges. Meanwhile, Coach Briles texted Athletics Director Ian McCaw: “Just talked to [the player] – he said Waco PD was there – said they were going to keep it quiet – Wasn’t a set up deal… I’ll get shill (Shillinglaw) to ck on Sibley (local attorney Jonathan Sibley).” Athletics Director Ian McCaw replied: “That would be great if they kept it quiet!”
Jump to page 14 of the filing for additional examples.
The documents also detail Baylor’s sluggish response and Briles’ knowledge of accusations from alleged victims in the cases of Tevin Elliott, accused of sexually assaulting six women and now in prison for rape, and Shawn Oakman. The school also claimed that “at least six football players had been identified as allegedly participating in gang rapes,” though all six were gone from school by the time the Title IX office got around to conducting its investigations.
It is going to be extremely difficult for another program to justify hiring Briles and those mentioned in the court filling as this news runs in direct conflict with the message that Briles and his former colleagues have been riding ever since the scandal erupted in May.
Since his dismissal, Briles has denied having any knowledge of the numerous alleged rapes and Title IX violations within his program, and he filed the lawsuit because he believed school officials were implying in interviews that he did.
The filing concluded:
Contrary to some people’s belief, Briles was not a “scapegoat” for the University’s larger problems – he was part of the larger problem. So was Shillinglaw. Coach Briles admitted that he was operating an internal disciplinary system outside Baylor’s policies that left their team unaccountable under University procedures. Shillinglaw aided Briles in doing this.
Baylor had no choice but to change leadership – including parting ways with its prized football coach. There is no question that the Regents, after a long self-imposed silence, had to respond with truthful statements to correct the record in an attempt to end the widespread misinformation.
Briles’ decision to drop the suit came less than a week after new revelations about the Baylor program under Briles. A lawsuit filed against Baylor last week alleges that 52 “acts of rape” by 31 Baylor players, including five alleged gang rapes, took place at Baylor between 2011 and 2014. Briles took over the Baylor program in 2008.
The lawsuit also claims the program used sex to sell the program to potential recruits with players arranging for “women, alcohol and illegal drugs” to be available for recruits at off-campus parties.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Docs: Art Briles, Baylor officials actively involved in covering up player incidents