The Big 12 Conference announced it will be withholding a quarter of its revenue from Baylor University, pending a third party review of the school’s Title IX changes. If the review is verified, the conference will not withhold the money. This is the first announcement of any “punishment” from the Big 12 or the NCAA against the school since members of the football team were accused of sexual assault.
Jessica Luther, author of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape”, says that it’s not clear what the conference is trying to achieve with this possible withholding of funds.
Least year, the university fired its head coach, Art Briles, and commissioned a third party review from law firm Pepper Hamilton. The assessment resulted in 105 recommendations, including ensuring that student athletes accused of sexual misconduct are held to the same standard as all Baylor students, creating a Waco-area Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), and guaranteeing that reports of sexual, gender-based or other interpersonal violence are evaluated under Title IX policy. Baylor tracks the progress the school has made on a designated website.
Luther says that it’s unclear why the Big 12 is requiring this additional review and holding funds in escrow, when they have the authority to fine the school up front.
“They’ve really skirted around actually financially punishing them,” Luther says.
She says that Baylor’s firing of Briles seems more impactful than the Big 12’s threat to hold revenue.
Luther says that the lack of attention that the conference is paying to other schools in the Big 12 strikes her as unusual as well.
“There are other programs under fire right now in the Big 12 including Oklahoma, Kansas and Kansas State – all of them having issues of sexual or domestic violence of athletes in their programs,” Luther says. “It’s interesting that they’ve chosen this particular spotlight on Baylor. It’s, of course, egregious what happened at Baylor, but it is always strange when it feels like they’re throwing stones at glass houses.”
Jason Cook, a member of the interim president’s executive council at Baylor University, says that the review is an effort to seek verification that the school is making the improvements they said they were going to make.
He says that the Big 12 commissioner estimates that the possible withholding of revenue could amount to up to $7 million.
“We’re not counting that as a loss just yet because we do have an opportunity to have a verification of the efforts that we’ve had,” Cook says.
Written by Emma Whalen.