GRAMBLING, La. (KMSS/KTAL) – KTAL Sports reporter Sam Rothman sat down with new Grambling State offensive coordinator Art Briles Thursday. The 66-year-old hasn’t coached collegiately since being fired from Baylor University in 2016 after an investigation concluded that Briles and his staff ignored reports of sexual assault by Baylor football players. Below is a transcript of the interview along with information from the NCAA and Baylor external investigations for added context.
Q: There is a reason it has been some time since you last coached college football. After being fired from Baylor back in 2016 amid a campus-wide sexual assault investigation., the NCAA did not find you guilty of any NCAA violations1. However, the investigation did find that you failed to report sexual misconduct among your players2. What is your response to that?
A (Art Briles): Well, fortunately, the NCAA didn’t find any violations and Baylor’s general counsel did completely exonerate3 me and the rest of our staff also. It’s sad that it was a campus-wide situation. There were no, we actually didn’t get a Title IX person until the fall of 20154. So, reporting policies and procedures were not as available as they should have been for a variety of students on campus. You know, you report what you know, we did the best we felt at the time. Apparently, it wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t good enough. And you know, I’m sorry for anybody that suffered any consequences because of it.
- The NCAA found that Baylor didn’t commit any violations of it’s bylaws, but stated in it’s investigation, “athletics and football personnel affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence and dating violence to an appropriate administrator outside of athletics”, while a Baylor external investigation’s findings “reflect significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of athlete misconduct.”
- In regards to Briles directly, the NCAA report also stated, “In each instance, when the head coach received information from a staff member regarding potential criminal conduct by a football student-athlete, he did not report the information and did not personally look any further into the matter.”
- While Briles was found not guilty of breaking any NCAA bylaws, it’s because what occurred was beyond the scope of established rule. From the report: “The head coach failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case. Furthermore, as a campus leader, the head coach is held to an even higher standard. He completely failed to meet this standard. However, there is no linkage between this conduct and Level I or II NCAA violations.“
- Baylor’s external investigation concluded that the University failed to identify and train “responsible employees” under Title IX until August 2015. A full list of the institutional failings can be found here.
Q: Looking back now, what would you have done differently?
A: That’s a huge question. Just make sure that everyone is on the same page about what they’re doing, when they’re doing it, how to report, and how to protect students and everybody involved. Like I said, we’re still learning, I’m still learning. I’m kinda a good soldier so to speak, you tell me what to do I’m gonna do it, that’s just what I’ve always done. So hopefully, you know, I’ve learned people need to recognize the places, policies and procedures that are there and understand the space that every individual deserves.
Q: What will you do differently here at Grambling?
A: I’ll do exactly what I’m required to do and what they expect of me which is to be a very solid citizen, to be a positive leader on a day in and day out basis, to do everything I can do to protect our students and our student-athletes on campus and to represent the Grambling University to the best of my ability because I’m very humble and grateful to be at this University.
Q: If you are made aware of allegations concerning one of your student athletes5, what will you do?
A: I’ll report it to Title IX immediately and to Coach (Hue) Jackson, Dr. (Trayvean) Scott.”
5. Pepper Hamilton’s investigation found that “Baylor football coaches and staff took affirmative steps to maintain internal control over the discipline of players and to actively divert cases from the student conduct or criminal processes. In some cases, football coaches and staff had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules, and that there was no culture of accountability for misconduct.”
Q: Why should players trust you, why should parents trust you, and why should the overall Grambling community trust you, based on what has happened in the past?
A: I’ve coached over 40 years and the word trust is thrown around a bunch. It’s the hardest thing to get anybody to do, regardless of the situation, regardless of the environment, regardless of the profession. I mean, trust is a strong, strong word to use. It’s always something I took a lot of pride in with our coaches, with our student-athletes, with our support staff (at Baylor), that when you said something people could believe it. I think the only way you can gain trust is how you perform on a daily basis, how you interact with people on a daily basis. And then you have the opportunity to gain some trust. But, there’s not a magic wand you can say it and then all of a sudden somebody is gonna trust you. You have to earn that trust and that’s certainly what I’ll do on a daily basis at Grambling University.
S: What is your response to people who may feel that you should not be coaching?
A: It’s hard to control what other people think. I would just hope people would search through everything with an open mind and a kind heart.
Q: Are you ready to face any potential backlash?
A: I don’t guess you’re ever ready for any backlash, but when you face it, you face it head-on and hope that people look at the person and give the person an opportunity to prove themselves.