Many times, people deserve second chances.
However, sometimes the party providing the second chance has to weigh the pros with the cons.
Enter Art Briles and Grambling State University.
GSU announced the addition of the former Baylor head coach to new Tigers head coach Hue Jackson’s staff last week. That announcement has caused some pretty significant chatter, both locally and nationally.
And some of it isn’t positive.
Briles’ hiring isn’t etched in stone.
According to a story in the Monroe News-Star Saturday, the University hasn’t notified the University of Louisiana System of the decision. And once it does, Briles will need a majority vote from the 16-member board which doesn’t meet until April 28.
“It’s up to the board and our board takes things very seriously,” Cami Geisman, vice president of external affairs and chief of staff for the UL System, told the Monroe News-Star. “They’re not a rubber-stamp board by any means.”
Briles hasn’t worked in college football since being dismissed by Baylor University following a sexual assault scandal in 2015. It was an ugly, national story that tarnished Baylor’s reputation and all-but-ended Briles’ career in collegiate football.
That is until last week.
Finding information about what allegedly occurred at Baylor that led to Briles’ dismissal isn’t hard to locate online. It was everywhere in 2016 and it’s resurfacing now that Grambling State has elected to make the hire.
Here is a look back at the timeline for the Briles’ story.
2016: Baylor released findings of fact documents by the board of regents based on an independent investigation by the law firm Pepper Hamilton. The report stated that the 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.”
The Board of Regents held Briles responsible and suspended him with a plan to fire him as soon as they were legally allowed to do so.
Briles claimed he was never shown the evidence for why Baylor chose to fire him. He sued the University for wrongful termination, but later withdrew the lawsuit. Along with Briles, Baylor president Ken Starr and AD Ian McCaw resigned in the way of the scandal.
2017: The Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats hired Briles as an assistant. However, coming under intense criticism for the hire, the franchise reversed its course just hours after the announcement.
2018: Reports surfaced that cast some doubt as to Briles’ knowledge and participation in the scandal, claiming school administrators and local police buried the reports on the players without telling the football staff.
Later that same year, McCaw testified during a deposition that the sexual assault football scandal was “manufactured” by investigators and the Board of Regents to cover up a larger university-wide issue. McCaw alleged that the school created “an elaborate plan that essentially scapegoated black football players and the football program for being responsible for what was a decades-long, university-wide sexual assault scandal,” according to court documents.
Months later, Briles turned over new documents pursuant to a subpoena, which had not been previously produced by Baylor. The documents showed multiple senior Baylor administrators knew about a serial sexual assault assailant in fall 2011; but, along with Briles, failed to act.
Baylor’s legal counsel Christopher Holmes sent a letter addressed to Briles, clarifying Briles did not fail or discourage victims from reporting to law enforcement or university official.
2019: After coaching one year of football in Italy, Briles returned to the states and was hired as the head coach at Mount Vernon High School in Texas. In two seasons with the high school, Briles led the school to a 20-6 record. He resigned following his second season.
Bottom line is Briles is not officially 100 percent guilty of anything. However, right or wrong, a cloud of doubt and moral lack of judgement will follow him for the rest of his life.
Sam Rothman, of KTAL-TV, had an exclusive interview with Briles Friday. During the interview, she asked him what he would do differently.
“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,” Briles said.
So, is the decision by Hue Jackson and Grambling State worth the smoke?
Former Grambling State quarterback and head coach Doug Williams told the Washington Post that he doesn’t see why the school has hired Briles.
“I don’t know Art Briles; I’ve never met him in my life,” Williams told the Post. “But the situation, nobody else would hire him for whatever reason. I don’t know why Grambling State had to go be the one to hire him, so I’m not a fan at all.”
Williams even took it a step further when asked if he would continue to support his alma mater.
“Oh, no. I can’t do that,” said Williams. “No. No. No. If I support them, I condone it.”
So, at a time when Grambling State faithful should be united together in the excitement over a new era in the storied history of their beloved Tigers football program, it appears as if they are instead divided by the decision.
Will the feedback from alums such as Williams cause GSU to reconsider and call an audible?
One can almost hear Peyton Manning hollering, “OMAHA. OMAHA.”
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