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More Important Than Winning: Baylor Fires Football Coach Art Briles

It's hard to look at today's news and not be reminded of the firestorm that ensued when UCLA hired Steve Alford.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Central Florida v Baylor Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's been three and a half years since UCLA met Baylor in the 2012 Holiday Bowl.

Today, that seems like an eternity ago.

In case you haven't heard, heads were rolling at Baylor today. Not only did University President and Chancellor Ken Starr get demoted to just Chancellor, but Baylor Football Coach Art Briles was fired.

It wasn't because of anything which occurred on the field.

It was the result of an independent investigation requested by the Baylor University Board of Regents in the Fall of 2015. In a press release today, the Baylor Board of Regents issued an apology to "Baylor Nation". The release also announced the appointment of Dr. David Garland as interim president as well as the sanctioning and probation of Athletic Director Ian McCaw.

Baylor also released a Findings of Fact document along with Recommendations that were made by the law firm hired to conduct the investigation.

They have self-reported the findings to the NCAA.

Baylor's Board of Regents engaged outside counsel from the law firm of Pepper Hamilton, LLP to conduct an independent and external review of Baylor's institutional response to Title IX and related compliance issues through the lens of specific cases.

Today's release includes the key findings of that investigation:

Key findings of the investigation reflect a fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). The findings include:

The University's student conduct processes were wholly inadequate to consistently provide a prompt and equitable response under Title IX; Baylor failed to consistently support complainants through the provision of interim measures; and in some cases, the University failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its recurrence or address its effects.

Actions by University administrators directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.

In addition to broader University failings, Pepper found specific failings within both the football program and Athletics department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player and to a report of dating violence.

There are significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor's football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct.

Over the course of their review, Pepper investigated the University's response to reports of a sexual assault involving multiple football players. The football program and Athletics department leadership failed to take appropriate action in response to these reports.

It is important to distinguish that the Title IX violations Baylor is referring to have to do with the reporting of sexual violence, not equality of opportunity or any other aspect of Title IX.

But, as you probably recall, UCLA's current basketball coach had issues of his own when one of his players was accused of sexual violence against a fellow student.

While we've discussed the Pierre Pierce incident at the University of Iowa ad nauseum, there is a definite comparison which can be made because both situations involve allegations of a sexual assault by student-athletes.

In Baylor's case, what makes it more disgusting is the fact it appears to have been more than just one player. To be sure, that's not condoning the Iowa situation at all. It appears that, at Baylor, sweeping allegations under the rug was commonplace. At Iowa, it was Steve Alford trying to protect one particular player. But, neither situation should be excused.

On GridironNow, Tony Barnhardt writes:

This sends a message to coaches that they must take the issue of sexual assault by athletes seriously. If this can happen to Art Briles, it can happen to them. It isn’t enough just to bring in the right speakers to talk about sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence and intimidation of women. This is not something where a coach can check off a box that he’s done his due diligence. This is something that must be talked about and reinforced every single day.

ESPN's Ivan Maisel writes that "[s]omeone in the gridiron-industrial complex stood up and said some standards are more important than winning." He continues, "We demand greater adherence to community standards of good behavior. Coaches must treat players well. Players must treat other students with respect. The double standard is the exception, no longer the rule."

What saddens me most about this is that, three years ago, when UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero had an opportunity to be the "someone in the hardcourt-industrial complex to stand up" and say that some standards are more important than winning, he, instead, said that Steve Alford had "a clean slate."

Go Bruins.