Two months after being put on "warning" status for one year by a respected academic accreditation body, Baylor could be up for early review because of the ongoing sexual assault scandal.
"It's directly related to allegations of sexual assault," said Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
In December, Baylor was given one year by the SACSCOC board to clean up its house after the body found there was "non-compliance with standards." The warning was issued in the aftermath of the sexual assault scandal that started in May 2016 with the issuance of the Pepper Hamilton report.
Even though Baylor has a year to address several issues raised by SACSCOC, its board could be compelled to evaluate the school's progress again in June. The SACSCOC board meets twice a year -- in December and June.
"This is directly related to keeping students safe," Wheelan said of Baylor. "It has to do with who's in charge of the athletic program. Ideally, it's supposed to be the president, but there were some concerns because the president [Kenneth Starr] claimed he didn't know what was going on initially. This is all related to that."
Wheelan was reminded that, since her organization's December warning, there has been a rash of developments in regards to the scandal.
- A revelation that Starr reportedly granted former player Tevin Elliott reinstatement from a plagiarism suspension over the objections of the Baylor provost. Starr and the school reportedly mutually agreed to his departure in August. That was after former coach Art Briles was fired and athletic director Ian McCaw resigned in May.
- A second former Title IX officer at the school complained to federal offices she was discriminated against and intimidated by Baylor officials while investigating claims of sexual assault.
- A former football director of operations filed a libel lawsuit against the school after he was fired.
- A new lawsuit alleging there were 52 rapes in four years by at least 31 Baylor players.
- Briles dropped a libel lawsuit last week the day before a series of emails released by Baylor regents allegedly showed him ignoring player misconduct.
- This week, strength Baylor coach Brandon Washington was dismissed for allegedly soliciting a prostitute.
"With this new information, we'll send a letter saying, 'Hey what's going on?' Wheelan said. "If we perceive that something in addition to what's going on, something that exacerbates it, our board could address it in June. So stay tuned.
"Right now, they're not scheduled to be reviewed again until December. We [could be] coming back to that woodshed in December."
Wheelan does not have a vote in Baylor's evaluation. SACSCOC is the body that put North Carolina on probation in 2015 during the ongoing academic fraud scandal. North Carolina has addressed SACSCOC concerns and is off probation.
SACSCOC probation would be the next step for Baylor if it fails to satisfy the board. After that, loss of accreditation.
Schools seldom lose accreditation, but it does happen, Wheelan said. The most likely scenario is that a school has a financial problem that means, "You can't hire quality faculty. You don't have good facilities. You can't offer the curriculum."
SACSCOC and the Higher Learning Commission are the two largest regional accrediting agencies in the country. The two entities oversee a combined 30 states and tens of thousands of schools.
"Students simply would not attend the university if it were not accredited," Gerald Gurney, an Oklahoma assistant professor long involved in college athletics reform, told CBS Sports last year. "To be placed on probation is a very serious matter."
Wheelan said Wednesday, "We put schools on warning often. That's kind of like, 'I need to get your attention.' Probation is like, 'Uh, oh. I lost my allowance. I could be put out of the house.' Then the loss of membership is the most severe.
"No institution wants to have this cloud hanging over its head. It affects enrollment, both current and future, the whole reputation of the institution."