Briles to coach in Texas again
News of his hire by Mount Vernon High draws some criticism
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.”
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.”
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 benefit greatly from his skills and experience.” Jason Mccullough, Mount Vernon superintendent
Art Briles was fired as Baylor coach in 2016 after an inquiry found the school had mishandled reports of sexual misconduct and violence.
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.