Tevin Elliott, a defensive end who joined the Baylor Bears in August 2009, was convicted of sexual assault in 2014.
Face-of-the-franchise player Shawn Oakman, who joined the team in August 2012, was arrested earlier this year on charges of sexual assault; according to a subsequent report, Oakman had been accused of assault back in 2013.
Yet things seemed to boil over in the next 48 hours, and by Thursday morning, reports out of Waco were saying that not only would Starr be ousted from his position as president, but that Briles, the exalted head coach who had transformed Baylor’s football program from an afterthought to a national power, would also be fired. After Ukwuachu was convicted last year, Starr sent out a press release that, while lamenting the woman’s suffering, declared that “By God’s grace, we are living in a golden era at Baylor University.” He wasn’t wrong about that, at least if you look at the things the school had achieved since 2002, the year that the school’s administration unveiled its “Baylor 2012” vision for the university’s future.
That ten-year plan was intended to bring Baylor “into the top tier of American universities, while reaffirming and deepening its distinctive Christian mission.” The school scaled up its focus on research, big-name faculty, and sports. It took on unprecedented debt—building a $266 million football stadium, a $103 million sciences building—in pursuit of its ambition to enter that top tier of schools, to become the Baptist Notre Dame.
Putting up state-of-the-art buildings gives people plenty to look at, but those buildings also cast shadows.
The story of Baylor’s growth and success often eclipsed increasing reports of sexual assault that went well beyond Ukwuachu.
According to Pepper Hamilton, “administrators engaged in conduct that could be perceived as victim-blaming” and “perceived judgmental responses by administrators based on a complainant’s alcohol or other drug use or prior consensual sexual activity also discouraged reporting or continued participation in the process” were among the failures.