Briles to coach in Texas again

News of his hire by Mount Ver­non High draws some crit­i­cism

The Dallas Morning News - - FRONT PAGE - By CHUCK CARL­TON Staff Writer ccarl­[email protected]­las­news.com

Nearly three years to the day after be­ing fired at Bay­lor fol­low­ing a sex­ual as­sault scan­dal in­volv­ing the foot­ball pro­gram, Art Briles is back coach­ing in Texas.

In a press re­lease Fri­day evening, Mount Ver­non High School an­nounced that Briles had re­ceived a twoyear con­tract from the school district’s board of trustees and would coach the foot­ball team in the fall. Dur­ing a Skype ses­sion with Briles — who is now coach­ing club foot­ball in Italy — and Mount Ver­non play­ers and fans, Su­per­in­ten­dent Ja­son Mccul­lough said Mount Ver­non ISD trustees had voted 7­0 to hire Briles.

“High school foot­ball is a Texas in­sti­tu­tion. As a coach,

it’s my first love,” Briles said in a state­ment. “You’ll make no big­ger im­pact in this world than when you shape the lives of young peo­ple — one prac­tice, one game, and one life at a time. I am ex­cited to be coach­ing at Mount Ver­non this fall.”

So­cial me­dia re­ac­tion was swift and crit­i­cal from many, in­clud­ing Brenda Tracy, a sex­ual as­sault survivor who now speaks to col­lege teams about sex­ual vi­o­lence.

“Yes, Art, the Bay­lor rape sur­vivors are very aware of your im­pact on young lives,” Tracy tweeted. “While you’ve been UN­APOLO­GETIC & only con­cerned with coach­ing again, they’ve been liv­ing out your night­mare in­flu­ence & will do so for the rest of their lives.”

Fall­ing quickly

Once one of the hottest col­lege coach­ing names in the coun­try after lead­ing long­time Big 12 doormat Bay­lor to con­sec­u­tive con­fer­ence ti­tles in 2014 and ’15, Briles fell quickly.

He was fired on May 26, 2016, fol­low­ing a school in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the foot­ball pro­gram con­ducted by the Pep­per Hamil­ton law firm. School Pres­i­dent Ken Starr was re­as­signed and even­tu­ally left. Bay­lor re­gents later said that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had re­vealed 17 sex­ual assaults or cases of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence by 19 play­ers from 2011 to 2016, in­clud­ing four gang rapes. A civil law­suit al­leged the num­bers were much higher.

In its an­nounce­ment, Mount Ver­non ISD made no ref­er­ence to the han­dling of sex­ual as­sault re­ports by Briles at Bay­lor. Grant Teaff, a for­mer Bay­lor coach and later head of the Amer­i­can Foot­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion, en­dorsed Briles and noted he had not in­curred a re­cruit­ing vi­o­la­tion as a coach.

Bay­lor is still await­ing the re­sults of an NCAA in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the foot­ball pro­gram dur­ing the Briles era. The NCAA has al­leged a lack of in­sti­tu­tional con­trol by the school and that Briles failed to pro­mote com­pli­ance.

“He is pas­sion­ate about in­vest­ing in the lives of young peo­ple and help­ing them to succeed both on the field and in life,” Mccul­lough said in mak­ing the Mount Ver­non an­nounce­ment. “After a thor­ough due dili­gence process and sev­eral earnest con­ver­sa­tions, we be­lieve our stu­dents will ben­e­fit greatly from his skills and ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Coach­ing pariah

Briles, 63, had es­sen­tially been a coach­ing pariah since his time at Bay­lor. He made a few ap­pear­ances at NFL train­ing camps and was very briefly hired as an as­sis­tant with the Hamil­ton Tiger­cats of the Cana­dian Foot­ball League. The de­ci­sion was re­versed after strong neg­a­tive re­ac­tion from fans and cor­po­rate part­ners. In a mes­sage to fans, owner Bob Young wrote: “We made a large and se­ri­ous mis­take.”

Briles in­ter­viewed for the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor post at South­ern Mis­sis­sippi in Fe­bru­ary, even though emails show in­terim ath­letic di­rec­tor Jeff Mitchell had ve­toed the hire.

Briles be­came known as an of­fen­sive guru at Stephenvil­le High School, run­ning his ver­sion of the spread of­fense that also in­cor­po­rated a power run­ning game.

He won four state cham­pi­onships be­tween 1988 and 1999 be­fore leav­ing for Lubbock to join then­texas Tech coach Mike Leach’s staff. He coached the Univer­sity of Houston to a 34­28 record from 2003 to 2007 be­fore tak­ing the Bay­lor job.

At Bay­lor, Briles ended a 15year bowl drought, devel­oped Robert Grif­fin III into the school’s first Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner and be­gan beat­ing schools like Texas and Ok­la­homa.

Ap­plause greeted Briles’ Skype ap­pear­ance at Mount Ver­non, a 3A school that reached the third round of the state Univer­sity In­ter­scholas­tic League playoffs this past sea­son.

“I’m ex­tremely tick­led my­self,” Briles said. “We’re very grate­ful and hum­bled to come there and do what­ever we can do to help those young peo­ple at Mount Ver­non.”

“After a thor­ough due dili­gence process and sev­eral earnest con­ver­sa­tions, we be­lieve our stu­dents will benefit greatly from his skills and ex­pe­ri­ence.” Ja­son Mccul­lough, Mount Ver­non su­per­in­ten­dent

File Photo/the As­so­ci­ated Press

Art Briles was fired as Bay­lor coach in 2016 after an in­quiry found the school had mis­han­dled re­ports of sex­ual mis­con­duct and vi­o­lence.

Rod Ay­de­lotte/waco Tri­bune­her­ald

Then­bay­lor Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Ken Starr (left) joked with then­foot­ball coach Art Briles on the first day of prac­tice in 2014. Briles was fired on May 26, 2016, fol­low­ing a school in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the foot­ball pro­gram con­ducted by the Pep­per Hamil­ton law firm. Now he has been hired as coach at Mount Ver­non High, a 3A school in East Texas.

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