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Baylor Fires Football Coach Art Briles, Promises Sweeping Reforms and Other Personnel Changes

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Baylor has fired football coach Art Briles, multiple news outlets including ESPN are reporting right now, citing anonymous sources. 

Briles's exit comes as Baylor waits for the results of an independent investigation into the university's handling of sexual assault allegations against multiple Baylor football players during Briles's tenure. Last week, ESPN's Outside the Lines reported that multiple Baylor officials, including Briles, were aware of allegations made against some of the players, but did not take disciplinary action against the accused players. Outside the Lines had previously reported that the university either failed to investigate or improperly investigated sexual assault allegations against its football players.

ESPN says Briles notified his team that he would be fired via text message this morning. 

Before he was hired at Baylor, Briles coached the University of Houston from 2003 to 2007. 

Baylor is expected to make an announcement regarding Briles at noon today. We'll update this story with any additional details.

[UPDATE]: 11:45 a.m. May 26, 2016

Baylor University released the findings of the independent investigation and announced extensive personnel changes today, in addition to the firing of Briles.

According to a press release, the school has named Dr. David Garland interim president as former president Ken Starr “transitions to role of Chancellor and remains professor at Baylor University Law School.”

Athletic Director Ian McCaw was also sanctioned and placed on probation, and the university has self-reported the findings of the independent investigation to the NCAA and is creating an “Executive-Level Task Force on Implementation” to address the recommendations made in the report.

The report, by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, found that the university’s student conduct processes “were wholly inadequate,” and identified “sobering findings of failure within football, the Athletics Department and the University as a whole."

“There are significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct,” the report found, according to the press release. "The football program and Athletics department leadership failed to take appropriate action in response to these reports."

The report also found that school administrators “directly discouraged some complainants from reporting” sexual assault, and in one case retaliated against someone for reporting sexual assault.

“We’re horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus,” Richard Willis, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents, said, according to the press release. “This investigation revealed the University’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students. The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students."

Ron Murff, chair-elect of the board of regents, apologized for the university’s immense failures.

“We are deeply sorry for the harm that survivors have endured,” Murff said in the release.

In addition to the actions taken against Starr, Briles and the athletic director, Baylor said additional members of the administration and athletics program have been dismissed, but it will not be naming those people publicly.

The university says it will make a number of systemic changes, including integrating the operations of the athletics department into the overall operations of the university, requiring annual training for all students and personnel with “additional trauma-informed training for implementers, investigators and adjudicators,” and establishing a “centralized hub of student conduct information that will provide a level of ‘early warning’ for students who are at risk or may place others at risk.”

Baylor also says it will boost its public safety office by hiring new leadership and more experienced officers and will “revisit its protocol for sharing information” between university law enforcement and the Waco Police Department. The school has also allocated $5 million to improve its counseling center and expand after-hours access and emergency crisis services.

For a more detailed look at what the report found, the school released a “Findings of Fact” document developed by the board of regents with guidance from Pepper Hamilton. You can read that, as well as Pepper Hamilton’s recommendations, here:

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