Art Briles drops libel suit against Baylor officials
WACO, Texas (AP) — Former Baylor football coach Art Briles has dropped the defamation lawsuit filed against four university officials he accused of making false statements against him, according to attorneys in the case.
Briles in December sued the three regents and a university vice president for libel and slander, claiming they falsely stated that he knew of reported assaults and alleged gang rapes by players and didn’t report them.
Rusty Hardin, an attorney for the regents, told the Waco Tribune-Herald that the suit was dropped Wednesday.
The lawsuit that was filed in Llano County also asserted that Baylor officials conspired to damage Briles’ reputation and keep him from getting another coaching job. It sought damages for emotional distress and likely ending his career as a coach “on any level.”
Briles’ attorney, Ernest Cannon, told KWTX-TV of Waco on Wednesday, that the lawsuit was never about money.
Cannon told the station he was sorry the issue didn’t get resolved “for all the Baylor people, so they could know the truth.” The attorney said Briles wanted some peace in his life and to put as much distance as possible between his family and Baylor.
In a response they filed with the court last month, Reagan Ramsower, a chief operating officer for Baylor, and three regents, including Chairman Ronald Murff, said as a public figure Briles would bear the responsibility of proving any falsehood. The four men had requested a jury trial.
Briles was fired last May after an investigation determined Baylor mishandled reports of alleged sexual and physical assaults, some by football players. Briles has denied he knew about and failed to report alleged assaults.
The lawsuit accused the regents and Ramsower of spreading false information through media interviews with Texas and national outlets on the advice of a media relations firm that wasn’t named as a defendant.
Regents first told The Wall Street Journal in October that 17 women had reported domestic violence or sexual assaults that involved 19 football players since 2011, including four gang rapes.
Those figures had never been disclosed to Briles when he was fired or during his settlement after he sued for wrongful termination, the former coach’s lawsuit said.
In a federal lawsuit filed against the university last week, a former Baylor student said she was raped by two football players and alleged there were at least 52 rapes by more than 30 football players over a four-year period.