Reports surfaced late yesterday morning that Baylor president Ken Starr had supposedly been fired by the Baylor Board of Regents. The firing was reportedly the result of an ongoing scandal involving numerous sexual assaults of Baylor coeds (and female Waco residents) committed over a period of numerous years by members of the Baylor football team. Baylor has refused to confirm Starr’s firing, however.
All indications are, however, that Starr, the moral scold of the 1990s, is out of a job. Which makes it kind of ironic that Starr, the man who forced through the impeachment of Bill Clinton because he caught Clinton in a lie regarding receiving oral sex from a White House intern, will be out of a job for failing to adequately react to a spree of sexual assault claims against members of the Baylor football team. Then again, Bill Clinton didn’t play football, and Starr’s job in the 1990s was to bring down Clinton, not to protect the football team.
What has been allowed to happen on the Baylor campus should be unacceptable to anybody. Countless sexual assaults that have resulted in some former players' receiving serious jail sentences were met with no action from school officials or the football team. No players were expelled or suspended. And this is despite countless reports that Baylor athletic officials and school administrators were made aware of what happened to many of the victims.
Starr deserves everything that is coming to him — perhaps that’s why Starr has become so forgiving of Clinton, praising Clinton’s philanthropic work in a speech last week while calling him a gifted politician who truly empathizes with his fellow human beings. It’s that empathy towards the women who attend Baylor (and live in Waco) that Starr has been severely lacking over the past several years. But when compared to football coach Art Briles, Starr has been an avenging angel, because while Starr’s actions are those of a failure to act, it’s Briles who has been actively seeking players with troubled pasts, and who has failed to punish anyone.
Art Briles, a supposedly devout Christian, has allowed this to happen. It’s one thing to forgive, but it’s another thing to condone, and allowing attack after attack, incident after incident, to go unpunished, to not be met by some action, has apparently allowed a consequence-free culture of sexual assault to flourish on his football team.
So it’s one thing for Baylor to get rid of Ken Starr. He’s supposedly the guy running the university, so he should have stepped in and done something after Briles refused to act so many times.
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But allowing Art Briles to remain employed sends the message that nothing is really changing. What a magnificent impersonation of Joe Paterno, either ignoring what’s been happening under his nose or allowing it to happen because winning football games is more important than the safety of others.
Baylor, while not denying Starr’s forced departure, is otherwise refusing to comment. Stating that it would “not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unknown sources,” the university did clarify that it expects to make an announcement by June 3 as to what it will do on the basis of the Pepper Hamilton investigation. The Pepper Hamilton law firm turned in a report several weeks ago that summarizes its investigation into the sexual assaults and into the actions taken in response by the university.
Maybe this is all some kind of trial balloon. A method of testing the reaction of Baylor alumni before acting. It’s obvious that football is important, and it seems pretty obvious that if there’s any way for Briles to remain as coach, Baylor will find a way to make that happen. So maybe this is all some kind of karmic justice for Ken Starr, who, when unable to prove a serious crime against a president, made use of a sexual indiscretion in a vain, failed attempt to unseat the man. The man so shocked and dismayed by sex is now being brought to his knees for failing to act when presented with actual evidence of serious sex crimes.
So how do you like it, Baylor fan? Is a winning football team really worth it? Is it really worth forsaking the safety of half the student body just for a shot at making the college football playoffs? It’s not enough that Ken Starr be removed from his job — not if Art Briles holds onto his.