Baylor, Big 12 meeting on sexual assault scandal set for Tuesday

DALLAS -- Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Baylor officials are scheduled to meet with the league's board of directors Tuesday to present their plans to address the sexual assault scandal that rocked the university this summer.

Bowlsby, speaking Monday at the opening of Big 12 media days, said Baylor officials have declined to release the full Pepper Hamilton report to the conference. He said Big 12 officials have had access to only a summary of the report and "findings of fact" that Baylor officials released to media and the public in late May.

"Our board has asked for a full accounting from Baylor University relative to the sexual assaults and their university's response to that situation," Bowlsby said. "I think it's fair to say that they're deeply concerned about the associational elements of this. ... From a purely athletic standpoint, we also have to be satisfied that there haven't been Big 12 rules broken and there haven't been NCAA rules violated. That is the essence of our process, and it's very early in the process right now."

On June 22, the Big 12 issued a public statement demanding specifics of Baylor's sexual assault investigations, including the full Pepper Hamilton report, and made a point of noting that this was the second time the conference had to ask. The first request was a letter to then-president Kenneth Starr on May 24, two days before the university publicly released the law firm's report summary and announced the fates of Starr, athletic director Ian McCaw and football coach Art Briles.

This time, Baylor responded. There was an in-person meeting June 23 between Bowlsby and Baylor officials, including interim president David Garland and board of regents chairman Ronald Murff. They gave Bowlsby no documents, no details of the investigation, none of the names involved in the alleged assaults and none of the material the conference originally requested, but they did give him an explanation.

"I thought all of them were very forthright," Bowlsby told ESPN last week. "They are in the middle of a midst of a number of potential civil actions, and on the advice of counsel, they are not sharing everything they have. At least not right now."

Garland, Murff and Baylor regent David Harper are scheduled to address the Big 12 board of directors Tuesday, according to Bowlsby.

Bowlsby said the Big 12 board of directors executive committee -- Oklahoma president David Boren, Texas president Gregory Fenves and Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little -- decided to go public with the news that they were demanding information from Baylor and that the school wasn't complying.

"I think that there are certainly those among our board that have felt that the image of the Big 12 and the other members of the Big 12 have been sullied as a result of this incident," Bowlsby said. "It's gotten a lot of publicity, obviously, so that's the reason the board took the steps they took."

Three federal Title IX lawsuits involving sexual assaults are pending against Baylor, and they represent claims by eight women, including two who said they were assaulted by a Bears football player.

"I came away with enhanced confidence that David Garland was very intent upon doing the right things and leading the university out of a dark chapter and that the board [of regents] was similarly committed," Bowlsby told ESPN. "Having said that, this is a very long process and it has many steps to it, not the least of which are all the things that the Pepper Hamilton report details need to be done and some of them are pretty big projects. But saying it and doing it are two different things."

How long the conference waits depends on the patience of the board of directors, which is composed of the presidents of the member schools, including Baylor. Bowlsby said they realize this is a long process, "but I don't think they're going to wait forever," regardless of where Baylor is with its various lawsuits.

Bowlsby said Baylor is aware that there could be repercussions for not turning over the information, although he wouldn't say what those might be. The conference, which distributes about $25 million to each of its member institutions, doesn't have specific bylaws that address this, he said, adding that the board has a "wide array of options" if and when the time comes.

It's also unclear what would happen if the conference received the information and then determined that Baylor had violated bylaws regarding compliance with Title IX and unfair competition, because the league doesn't have the power to impose the same sort of punishment as the NCAA. Bowlsby didn't rule it out, though.

"If it's determined they weren't in compliance [with Title IX], there's a provision in our bylaws that says they have to be in compliance but it doesn't apply a specific remedy for that," Bowlsby said. "So the board would have to get back together once that finding is finalized and determined what, if any, penalty or sanction there might be at the conference level."
Copyright © 2021 ESPN Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.