In a horrifying turn of events, Art Briles is going to be employed on a college campus come fall.
Despite vehement denials on Wednesday by Grambling State representatives following a report from a local TV station KTAL, Briles’ hiring has been confirmed today by multiple outlets. The Monroe News-Star reported that a spokesperson from the HBCU, whose football team competes at the DI-FCS level, had sent them a text yesterday that read, “There is no truth to this rumor. And I will not provide a statement regarding any false hires.”
It was a wholehearted shutdown of the rumor — only for The Athletic and 247 Sports to receive confirmation today that Briles would, in fact, be brought onto the staff at the HBCU as offensive coordinator. The Grambling State Tigers are coached by former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson. The school’s fierce denial of the leaked news leaves a bad taste in the mouth — but not nearly as bad as the Briles hire itself.
Briles was hired on as the head coach at Baylor University in 2008, where he turned around a struggling program in an effort led by Robert Griffin III. His tenure in Waco came to a forcible end in 2016, when it was revealed that school officials had been repeatedly covering up allegations of assault, sexual and otherwise, perpetrated by multiple Baylor football players. The investigation covered incidents between 2012 and 2016 — all concerning Briles-recruited players, some of whom had troubling histories that Briles was apparently attempting to redeem through the healing power of football.
An NCAA report at the time found that Briles “failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case.” It did not, however, explicitly charge him with any NCAA violations, which is why he’s still allowed to coach today. Allowed is one thing, though — you would imagine that every school in the nation would have the presence of mind to avoid Briles like the plague.
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While Briles painted the report as some sort of smear campaign against him and denied knowledge of his players’ crimes, the university alleges that he was aware of the gang rape of a student by members of the football team and did nothing. He filed a defamation suit against the university at one point, but dropped it shortly after.
After getting fired from Baylor, Briles was hired on by a Canadian League team, a hiring that was immediately reversed after public backlash. He also coached in the Italian Football League, as well as at a Texas high school, where he was reprimanded for using ineligible players. I’m not sure whether he thinks that getting back on the NCAA stage is a good idea at this point, six years after the scandal at Baylor, but the public reaction has been vocally and extremely negative, with some voicing their concerns for the safety of Grambling State’s female population.