COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Baylor receives notice of allegations from NCAA

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The NCAA has completed its investigation into Baylor University and has submitted a formal notice of allegations against the Big 12 school, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Former football coach Art Briles is among those alleged to have committed NCAA infractions. Sources confirmed the allegations against Briles fall under "Head Coach Responsibility: Failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance." Also among the NCAA allegations is a "lack of institutional control."

Neither the NCAA nor Baylor officials commented for this story. It's standard for all parties involved in an NCAA investigation to decline comment until the matter is resolved. Officials familiar with the process spoke on background.

The investigation comes at a time when the school continues to deal with the fallout over a sexual assault scandal that continues to shadow the university.

On Monday, KWTX in Waco reported that Richard Willis, the former chairman of the board of regents, made racially insensitive remarks about Baylor football players and university coeds during a trip in 2014. According to the report, Willis used the n-word to describe the players.

The NCAA opened its investigation in June 2017 and submitted its report to Baylor approximately three weeks ago. The school has 90 days to respond.

After Baylor issues its response, the NCAA has 60 days to reply. Given the usual timeline in these cases, this situation should be resolved in the spring of 2019.

If a specific person is named by the NCAA, be it a coach, an administrator or official, a hearing can be conducted as part of this process. That would likely at least include Briles among other people.

Baylor had initially hoped to avoid any serious punishment from the NCAA, based on North Carolina's experience with its academic fraud case in 2017. Normally the NCAA punishes universities when infractions are specific to the athletic department or when athletes receive benefits that are not available to the entire student population.

In recent months, evidence has shown that the handling of sexual assault cases at Baylor was not merely an athletic department issue.

In the early summer of 2018, however, the mood changed at Baylor when NCAA investigators continued to interview more former school officials and coaches. Among them was former Baylor strength and conditioning coach Kaz Kazadi. Part of his responsibility under Briles was to handle the disciplining of football players. That includes potential punishment for various team infractions, such as running early in the morning, etc.

When a case is opened under the guise of one potential infraction, the NCAA could potentially find a series of other problems that merit sanctions or punishment.

If a university has a history of committing NCAA infractions, that is taken into consideration when considering penalties.

Whether the NCAA would take into consideration the punishment for the men's basketball program for violations committed in 2003 by former coach Dave Bliss is speculation. That scandal was more than a decade ago, and all of the major figures from the program have moved on.

In April 2012, however, the NCAA discovered infractions committed by the Baylor men's and women's basketball teams, most of which were impermissible phone calls by staff members.

Baylor self-imposed a punishment, the most severe being a loss in scholarships.

Something else the NCAA considers in these matters is whether the university has taken steps to resolve the issue. Baylor has said it has put in more than 100 measures to update its Title IX compliance and modernize how it addresses sexual assault claims.

And, depending on whether Baylor agrees with the NCAA in its initial conclusion, the school could offer self-imposed penalties.

According to sources, Baylor was advised to consider a one-year ban from postseason play for the football team for 2018.

Baylor officials vehemently deny it has ever considered a bowl ban. The Bears are 3-2 and 1-1 in the Big 12; they need to win three of their next seven games to guarantee bowl eligibility.

Then there is the matter of head coach Matt Rhule, who signed a seven-year contract with the Baylor in December 2016.

When Baylor was initially going through the early stages of all this in May 2016, sources said school officials flew to Indianapolis and the NCAA offices to determine if penalties were inevitable. School officials were confident the school would not face serious punishment, and it pursued coaches accordingly with that information.

Sources also indicate that while the NCAA is finished with its investigation, it could potentially include any information that emerges from depositions given by former Baylor officials in the Jane Doe Title IX case against the university.

Those depositions include ones of former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw and former board member Phil Stewart. Both men delivered testimony that indicated BU had dysfunctional leadership with conflicting agendas.

Both men suggested the investigation of the school conducted by the law firm of Pepper Hamilton was not only insufficient, but it was also controlled by a few members of the board to deliver an outcome it wanted.

Multiple sources at Baylor said that during the school's process of deciding whether to fire or maintain Briles in the spring of 2016, several members of its board of regents wanted the school to find NCAA violations committed by the football program just to avoid paying Briles the bulk of his contract.

Shortly after he was fired at the end of May 2016, Briles agreed to a total compensation of nearly $18 million.

While virtually every other member of Baylor's staff has moved on from this and landed other jobs, only until recently was Briles able to find a position. He accepted a job to coach a team in Florence, Italy.

Sources familiar with this investigation said they do not believe the NCAA will slap a show-cause penalty on Briles for any school that wants to potentially hire him. They also believe he will have to go through a hearing process to ensure he will not be penalized by the NCAA.

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