Attorney: Baylor using Art Briles as scapegoat
Austin, Texas — Fired Baylor coach Art Briles is ripping his former employer, accusing the school of wrongful termination and indicating he has no interest in settling a federal lawsuit filed against him and the university by a woman who was raped by a football player.
In a motion filed Thursday as part of the lawsuit, Briles said he wants a judge to assign him new counsel and his personal attorney, Ernest Cannon, said the school was using the coach as a scapegoat for its failings in handling allegations of sexual assault.
“The conclusion is inescapable that the motive of Baylor and the Board of Regents was to use its head football coach and the Baylor athletic department as a camouflage to disguise and distract from its own institutional failure to comply” with federal civil rights protections, Cannon wrote to Baylor’s attorneys in the latest development in a scandal that has gripped the world’s largest Baptist university for months.
He also demanded that Baylor “immediately turn over to me the entire contents of each and every one of their litigation files” — including information given to the Pepper Hamilton law firm that investigated Baylor’s response to assault allegations in recent years.
Pepper Hamilton gave university regents an oral presentation and issued a 13-page “Finding of Fact” that was publicly released to support the school’s decision to fire Briles and demote school president and chancellor Ken Starr on May 26. In his only previous public statement, Briles had complained he hadn’t seen the evidence used to fire him. Since then, Baylor has resisted calls — including a demand from its largest alumni group — to release more details from the Pepper Hamilton investigation.
Baylor officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Behind an explosive and exciting offense, the Bears went 65-37 in eight seasons under Briles and won two Big 12 Conference titles. Baylor and Briles could also face NCAA discipline for some of the actions outlined in the Pepper Hamilton report, though is career is already likely crippled. He was replaced by former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe amid fallout that included the resignation of athletic director Ian McCaw.
The letter from Briles’ attorney suggests the coach is still vigorously fighting the decision to fire him and is willing to wage a disruptive legal fight with his former school. Court documents say Briles met with Baylor attorneys on April 7 — and they ended up sharing information he says was used to support his firing.
Briles was named with Baylor as a co-defendant a lawsuit filed in March by former Baylor student Jasmin Hernandez, who was raped in 2012 by a player who was later convicted and sent to prison.
Hernandez’s lawsuit claims Baylor knew Tevin Elliott had a history of assaults, failed to protect her and others who were attacked, and ignored her pleas when she sought help. The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify sexual assault victims, but Hernandez has spoken publicly to draw attention to the case.
Baylor attorneys last week told the court that the defendants were seeking a settlement with Hernandez.
But without a chance to review the evidence collected by Baylor or Pepper Hamilton, “Mr. Briles does not wish to settle the (lawsuit) and does not consent to any settlement in that case or any other case in which (Briles) is jointly named as a defendant and currently outstanding or filed in the future,” Cannon said in his letter.
According to Cannon’s letter to Baylor, a mediation meeting on the Hernandez lawsuit is scheduled Friday.