Three years after a sexual assault scandal rocked his career, once-admired former Baylor University football coach Art Briles has found a new home at a small high school in East Texas. But even before the end of his first season coaching the Mount Vernon Tigers, scandal has enveloped Briles again. Briles is accused of violating University Interscholastic League, or UIL, rules that prohibit players from transferring into a school for “athletic purposes.”
Kelsey McKinney reported the story for sports news website Deadspin.
“We’re dealing with a minor transfer scandal,” McKinney says. “Basically, two players who lived in Colorado and were ringers moved into a three a school district that they had no reason to be there except for, to play football.”
The UIL regulates athletic competitions for primary and secondary schools in Texas. Its rules include a prohibition of students transferring to a new school district for athletic purposes, McKinney says. This is the second time the UIL has conducted an investigation of the brothers from Colorado.
“The first one cleared them early on in the school year because it was believed that they had moved there for their father’s job,” McKinney says. “Since then, we have learned more about their relationship and their close connection to Art Briles, the head coach. Which is that their uncle is Art Briles’ former player at Baylor and in Italy, and is now unofficially coaching on the Mount Vernon team.”
Two weeks ago, the brothers were ruled ineligible to play football. But the decision will be appealed soon, McKinney says.
McKinney says sports culture in Mount Vernon is not like that of other small Texas towns, where there is an exclusive emphasis on football. Mount Vernon residents care just as much about girls’ basketball and other sports, she says. But the school district hired Briles as the high school’s head coach for his winning record.
“Art Briles was hired by the superintendent of the school district in a late night meeting on the same night as graduation,” McKinney says. “It wasn’t that there were people in town saying, ‘we want to hire Art Briles.’ They had just lost their previous coach to a rival school, needed a coach, and suddenly he was there.”
McKinney says there has been some pushback from the town because of Briles’ controversial career as Baylor’s coach.
“There’s certainly an argument being made by many people in the town that people deserve second chances, and this is a good chance for him to be redeemed,” McKinney says. “There are also people in town saying, ‘He never said he was sorry, right? So how can you be redeemed and why be redeemed here?”
Amid the past and current controversies, Briles continues to coach for Mount Vernon. He signed a two-year contract with the school. But there is some doubt about whether he will stay through the next school year.
“It’s unclear whether or not he’s in Mount Vernon for the long haul, or whether he’s just there to kind of tidy up his image and move along,” McKinney says.
Written by Antonio Cueto.