Baylor regent: 'Briles era is over,' financial settlement reached

ByPaula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach ESPN logo
Saturday, June 18, 2016

Embattled former Baylor football coach Art Briles has reached a financial settlement with the university, a longtime regent of the school told the Waco Tribune-Herald, saying, "The Briles era is over."

Clifton Robinson, a Waco insurance magnate, told the Tribune-Herald that regents held a conference call Thursday night. Robinson said he could not take part in the call and was told Friday that Briles and Baylor had reached a settlement. He said he did not know the terms.

Baylor suspended Briles with an intent to terminate May 26 and owed him as much as $40 million for the eight remaining years on his 10-year contract.

"I was thrilled when I heard that," Robinson said of the settlement. "I think it's a very positive thing for Baylor University to put this behind us and move forward."

Robinson said the board already had authorized attorneys to make a settlement with Briles, so it wouldn't have to come back to the board for approval.

The settlement comes one day after Brilesaccused the university of unfairly blaming him and the football program for the school's overall "institutional failure" in addressing sexual assault.

In a court filing at the U.S. District Court for Western Texas in Waco on Friday, Briles withdrew a request to remove Baylor's attorneys as his legal representation in a Title IX suit filed by a former female student against Baylor, Briles and former athletic director Ian McCaw.

Briles' attorney, Ernest Cannon of Stephenville, Texas, didn't return numerous telephone messages from Outside the Lines. On Thursday, Cannon declined to comment when asked whether he was negotiating a settlement with Baylor officials on Briles' behalf.

Briles' position in Friday's motion was a significant change from one day earlier, when his attorneys accused Baylor officials of using him and the athletic department as a "camouflage to disguise and distract from its own institutional failure to comply with Title IX and other federal civil rights laws."

The previous motion, part of the Title IX civil rights lawsuit filed in March by a sexual assault victim, accused the university of keeping Briles in the dark about plans to settle the lawsuit, including not informing him of mediation Friday between Baylor officials and plaintiff Jasmin Hernandez and her attorney. The mediation did not result in a settlement, so the case will continue in court. The plaintiff's attorney, Alexander Zalkin, told ESPN he expects Baylor to file a motion to dismiss between now and July 30.

ESPN does not normally name victims of sexual assault, but Hernandez came out publicly with the filing of the lawsuit. In 2012, Hernandez, a former Baylor student, was raped by former football player Tevin Elliott. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $10,000 for sexually assaulting Hernandez, and his criminal trial revealed allegations of rape by three other women and a misdemeanor for trying to assault another woman.

Baylor has been at the center of nationwide attention over its handling of sexual assault allegations and investigations, including several that have involved athletes. In recent weeks, Baylor has dealt with the fallout from that negative attention: the demotion and then resignation of former university president and chancellor Kenneth Starr; the firing of Briles; the suspension and then resignation of McCaw; and the firings of multiple athletic department employees.

Despite being a private school, Baylor is required by the federal Title IX statute to investigate allegations of sexual assault and violence thoroughly and to provide security, counseling services and academic help to those who report assaults. Part of the law's goal is to help keep victims in school.