Big 12 to withhold revenue instead of fining Baylor until it's sure changes are made
The Big 12 plans to hold 25 percent of Baylor's conference revenue
The first major announcement about any type of "punishment" for Baylor from either the Big 12 or NCAA has been made, and it may -- or may not -- result in a financial blow to the university.
The Big 12 announced on Wednesday that the Board of Directors voted unanimously (sans Baylor) to withhold 25 percent of of future revenue distribution to the school. The catch is that money will be held until the completion of a third-party review of the school's required changes. At which point, if Baylor proves it has made improvements presumably to its Title IX office and procedures, the money will apparently be handed over to Baylor.
"The Board is unified in establishing a process to verify that proper institutional controls are in place and sustainable," said University of Oklahoma president and Big 12 board of directors chairman David Boren in a statement. "Effective immediately, the Conference is withholding 25 percent of Baylor's share of any future revenue distribution until the proper execution of controls is independently verified.
"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," Boren continued. "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."
Baylor, along with every other Big 12 team, received about $30 million in revenue for 2015-16. The Bears said in a statement they are already well into the improvement process (which should mean the money will be distributed to them in short order after the review).
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports the conference's bylaws could have allowed Baylor to be fined now or still in the future. The Big 12 board of directors chose to withhold payouts at this time "because it's a lot of money and it's not an investigative process," according to Bowlsby. "It's a verification process. We're holding the money until we can verify that what needs to be done is being done."
Since the Big 12 distributes money throughout the course of a fiscal year, Baylor has already received about $10 million in 2016-17, Bowlsby said. That money won't be taken back. The remaining $24 million each Big 12 school is expected to receive this year will be reduced for Baylor, meaning a loss of $6 million in 2016-17.
Bowlsby said the board intentionally did not place a timeline on how long it will take for a third party to audit whether Baylor has appropriately corrected its Title IX problems in the wake of how it handled sexual assault allegations.
"We hope to do it as efficiently as possible, but also realize the NCAA and the [Office for Civil Rights] processes may take a longer time," Bowlsby said. The NCAA and OCR, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education, are investigating Baylor.
A Big 12 subcommittee of university presidents and chancellors is working on identifying an outside party to verify Baylor's work. Verification of Baylor's work means "all of the 105 recommendations from Pepper Hamilton are enacted," Bowlsby said. "It means anything that may have come to light in terms of appropriate governance, appropriate institutional control over athletics, and certainly compliance with Title IX." Pepper Hamilton is the law firm Baylor used for its internal investigation.
Bowlsby said the board has felt it has been "well informed" by Baylor on developments, but the need to withhold money came due to new information surfacing last week. Bowlsby pointed to court filings that showed the president's office's actions on the academic reinstatement of Tevin Elliott and former coach Art Briles' text messages to staff members.
Baylor's response in a lawsuit last week claimed Briles personally appealed to then-university president Ken Starr on behalf of Elliott, a former defensive linemen, when he was charged with plagiarism and thus ineligible for the 2011 season.
"The unusual request by Coach Briles triggered concern among top Baylor administrators, who complained to President Starr and among themselves that overturning Elliott's suspension after the appeal deadline would send a message that athletes were above the rules," Baylor wrote in the lawsuit.
Baylor said Elliott's appeal letter "appeared to have been authored by an academic adviser in the Athletics Department. Nevertheless, President Starr ignored the decision of his Provost and overturned the suspension." Elliott was later convicted of rape.
The university also released text messages and emails indicating that Briles and his staff actively intervened in the discipline of football players, tried to arrange for lawyers for players, and attempted to keep their cases quiet.
"New information became known that reached a tipping point," Bowlsby said.
Baylor interim president David E. Garland released the following statement after the Big 12's announcement on Wednesday.
Upon learning the scope and scale of the troubling incidents that occurred within our campus community through an independent investigation, Baylor University took unprecedented corrective actions that led to leadership changes within the University administration and athletic department and 105 recommendations to strengthen the safety and security of our students. No other university in the country has responded as aggressively and decisively as Baylor regarding incidents of sexual assaults on its campus.
Under the University's new leadership, Baylor has demonstrated a firm commitment to athletics compliance and integrity, increased awareness and prevention of sexual assault, implementation of Title IX best practices and providing comprehensive support services for any student in need of them. 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. 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.
This third-party review at the request of the Big 12 Conference will provide an opportunity for us to demonstrate our progress to date and our ongoing commitment in establishing Baylor as a leading institution in athletics compliance and governance and for preventing and addressing sexual assaults on college campuses.
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