Baylor hired a powerful law firm in the wake of the football program's ongoing sexual assault scandal, in part as a hedge against a repeat of the NCAA's controversial penalties applied to Penn State, CBS Sports has learned.
A source told CBS Sports said that neither NCAA enforcement nor the law firm believe there are traditional NCAA infractions in play at Baylor. However, there may be some extra benefits violations to be considered if Baylor players accused of sexual assault did not go through the school's traditional disciplinary process applied to students.
And there is at least a slight concern from Baylor the NCAA could go outside the enforcement process to punish the school.
The NCAA was widely criticized four years ago for leveling precedent-setting penalties against Penn State stemming from the Jerry Sandusky criminal case. The NCAA infamously acted outside the enforcement process to punish the school following Sandusky's criminal activities.
"Obviously, we would hope we would never, ever see anything of this magnitude or egregiousness again in our lives," NCAA president Mark Emmert said at the time. "But we do have to make sure it's a cautionary tale of athletics overwhelming the core values of an institution."
The Baylor case mirrors Penn State's in that its head coach has been fired, the administration is under fire and sexual assault is involved. Penn State's Joe Paterno was fired in November 2011 after it was deemed he lacked oversight. Sandusky was eventually sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for 45 cases of sexual abuse.
An independent report released Thursday concluded Baylor football officials ignored allegations of sexual assault by women and "discouraged complainants" from reporting them.
Baylor announced Thursday it had retained Bond, Schoeneck and King of Overland Park, Kansas. The firm is considered the gold standard for schools facing NCAA issues.
Baylor said in a release the firm had already contacted the NCAA "to initially discuss possible NCAA infractions."
An NCAA spokesman said there would be no comment.
In 2012, Emmert said the unusual Penn State penalties did not open "a Pandora's Box at all. This is a very distinct and very unique circumstance."
Baylor hired veteran attorney Rick Evrard, who has worked previously with Baylor on NCAA cases, according to this website. Evrard is also currently working with North Carolina in its ongoing academic fraud case.
A separate source told CBS Sports that NCAA enforcement has recently spent more time on Baylor's campus than any other Big 12 school.