Big 12 to withhold 25 percent of revenue share from Baylor
The Big 12 Conference said Wednesday it will withhold millions of dollars in revenue from Baylor until an outside review determines the university and athletic department are complying with Title IX guidelines and other regulations in the wake of a campus sexual assault scandal.
The league said it would withhold 25 percent of future revenue distribution payments to Baylor. The Big 12 paid out $30.4 million to each conference member last year, so a quarter of that would be $7.6 million if the payment remained the same this year.
The Big 12 said its board of directors voted unanimously to withhold the money. Baylor did not take part in the vote.
“By taking these actions the board desires to ensure that the changes that were promised are actually made and that systems are in place to avoid future problems,” said David Boren, the University of Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chairman. “The proportional withholding of revenue distribution payments will be in effect until the board has determined that Baylor is in compliance with conference bylaws and regulations as well as all components of Title IX.”
Baylor is not being fined; the money is being placed in escrow pending a third-party verification of Baylor’s reform efforts. But the sanction is the first by the Big 12 since the school in Waco, Texas, was hit by a wave of complaints that it repeatedly or intentionally mishandled assault allegations, many of them involving football players.
Baylor fired coach Art Briles last year and parted ways with university President Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw after an investigation by a law firm found allegations of sexual assault brought to the school were not dealt with appropriately.
The nation’s largest Baptist university still faces at least six federal and state lawsuits as well as a federal civil rights investigation into claims the school and football program ignored, mishandled or tried to cover up reports of sexual or physical abuse and other criminal misdeeds across campus for years. One court filing last week alleges more than 50 acts of rape by more than 30 football players over a four-year period, and that Baylor football promoted a culture of “sex, drugs and violence.”
Most of the allegations stem from a highly successful time for the football program: From 2008-2015 under Briles, Baylor went from perennial doormat in the Big 12 to a championship contender, winning consecutive football titles in 2013-14. Baylor hired Mack Rhoades away from Missouri to be its new athletic director last year and brought in former Temple coach Matt Rhule to take over the football program.
Baylor was given 105 recommendations for reforming its Title IX process by Pepper Hamilton, the firm that handled the initial investigation. Interim President David Garland said the university considered the recommendations a “mandate.”
“Baylor already had planned to hire an outside auditor to audit the implementation of our enhanced practices, and we welcome the Big 12 Conference’s request of an independent review,” Garland said in a statement. “While the withholding of conference distributions is an unexpected financial event, we do not deem these actions to materially impact the overall financial position of the university. We pledge our full cooperation, and we will work with the Big 12 Conference to conduct the audit as expeditiously as possible.”
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said earlier this week Baylor has made “significant progress” on the recommendations from Pepper Hamilton.
Bowlsby said the conference was limited in what actions it could take against Baylor because it does not have an investigative arm and its bylaws do not necessarily cover the school’s alleged transgressions. He said the Big 12 would rely on the findings of the federal Office of Civil Rights, which enforces Title IX, and the NCAA to determine possible punishments for Baylor.
“But the board has some prerogatives that they’ve discussed from time to time,” Bowlsby said in a telephone interview. “It’s not a clear-cut process. I would say as you start to see comments come up about legal services being arranged (for football players) or there being some measure of documented cover up or steps to keep the lid on things, as came out last week , that’s when my antenna start going up because you begin to think about extra benefits for student-athletes and I’m sure the antenna is going up at (NCAA headquarters) in Indianapolis.”
When the NCAA sanctioned Penn State in 2012, using the findings of the Freeh Report , the Big Ten followed with sanctions of its own that included ineligibility for the conference football championship game and a fine equal to the school’s conference bowl revenue payout, approximately $13 million.