The Big 12 said Wednesday it will withhold millions of dollars in conference revenue from Baylor until an outside review determines the university and athletic department are complying with Title IX guidelines and other regulations in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that has rocked the school.
The Big 12 paid out $30.4 million to each conference member last year. Baylor is not being fined; the money is being placed in escrow pending third-party verification of reforms at Baylor.
The Big 12 said its board of directors voted unanimously to withhold the money. Baylor did not take part in the vote.
“By taking these actions the board desires to ensure that the changes that were promised are actually made and that systems are in place to avoid future problems,” said David Boren, the University of Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chairman. “The proportional withholding of revenue distribution payments will be in effect until the board has determined that Baylor is in compliance with conference bylaws and regulations as well as all components of Title IX.”
The sanction against Baylor are the first by the Big 12 since the school was hit by a wave of complaints that it repeatedly or intentionally mishandled assault allegations, many of them involving football players.
Baylor fired coach Art Briles last year and parted ways with university President Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw after an investigation by a law firm found allegations of sexual assault brought to the school were not dealt with appropriately.
Baylor, the nation’s largest Baptist university, faces at least six federal and state lawsuits as well as a federal civil rights investigation into claims the school and football program ignored, mishandled or tried to cover up reports of sexual or physical abuse and other criminal misdeeds across campus for years.
One court filing last week alleges more than 50 acts of rape by more than 30 football players over a four-year period, and that Baylor football promoted a culture of “sex, drugs and violence.” Most of the allegations are tied to a highly successful time for the football program: From 2008-2015 under Briles, Baylor went from perennial doormat in the Big 12 to a championship contender, winning consecutive football titles in 2013-14.
Baylor was given 105 recommendations for reforming its Title IX process by the Pepper Hamilton, the firm that handled the initial investigation. Interim President David Garland said the university considered the recommendations a “mandate.”
“Baylor already had planned to hire an outside auditor to audit the implementation of our enhanced practices, and we welcome the Big 12 Conference’s request of an independent review,” Garland said in a statement. “While the withholding of conference distributions is an unexpected financial event, we do not deem these actions to materially impact the overall financial position of the university. We pledge our full cooperation, and we will work with the Big 12 Conference to conduct the audit as expeditiously as possible.”
Baylor hired Mack Rhoades away from Missouri to be its new athletic director last year and brought in former Temple coach Matt Rhule to take over the football program.