Baylor fires coach and demotes president as it struggles to respond to sexual assault scandal

Posted May 30

Ken Starr is out as president at Baylor University, as the nation's largest Baptist college struggles to respond to a sexual harassment scandal involving the football team, the New York Times reports.

The school announced today that Starr has been demoted and will now serve as the university's chancellor. Previously, he held both titles. The school also fired Coach Art Briles outright.

The school had previously said it would not announce its decision until June 3, but sped up the announcement after leaks to news sources. Multiple sources told KCEN, the local NBC affiliate in Waco, Texas, the Board of Regents has voted to fire Starr, who came under fire after as many as five Baylor football players were accused of sexual assault, and the university was accused of being slow to respond to the crimes and was lax in helping the victims.

ESPN broke the story in February when it addressed three Baylor rape cases in which, ESPN charged, "school officials either failed to investigate, or adequately investigate, allegations of sexual violence ... [or] provide support to those who reported assaults."

In response to the off-the-record reports to KCEN, the university issued a statement that did not exactly deny the rumor of Starr's firing. University spokeswoman Lori Fogleman told the Associated Press in an email, "Ken Starr is president and chancellor of Baylor University."

A similar statement issued Tuesday also fueled speculation that Starr had already been fired by the board.

Baylor has been under scrutiny for mishandling sexual assault cases, with the most high profile being that of Samuel Ukwuachu, who transferred from Boise State University after being dismissed from the football team following erratic behavior and a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, ESPN reports.

"Ukwuachu, a former freshman All-American who transferred to Baylor from Boise State University, was convicted in August of the 2013 sexual assault of the former Baylor soccer player, who has since transferred to another Texas university," The Waco Tribune reports.

"The school faced criticism for what prosecutors and others deemed a shoddy investigation following the victim’s initial complaint against Ukwuachu," The Tribune continued. "Baylor leaders have since pledged to do more and created a new position within the athletics department to monitor student-athletes’ behavior. And in September, Baylor’s board of regents hired a pair of high-profile attorneys to conduct an independent review of how the university handled allegations of sexual assault."

Boise State University denies it knew at the time that Ukuachu had already been implicated in a domestic violence case there, though the details of the transfer remain controversial. Texas Monthly has obtained documents that suggest Boise's coach at the the time, Chris Petersen, may have known more about Ukwuachu's volatility and violence toward his girlfriend than he shared with the Baylor coach when he suggested the transfer.

Petersen is now coach at the University of Washington.



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