The thunderstorm brewing in Waco grew louder Tuesday, as reports emerged that Baylor University President Kenneth Starr had been fired. The root of the speculation: the mounting number of sexual assault allegations against the school's football program. Baylor's Board of Regents is currently reviewing an independent report that details the university's handling of those allegations.
Here's what has happened so far, as well as what people are saying about Starr, Baylor football coach Art Briles and the university in tumult:
• Baylor officials are keeping their lips sealed, for the most part, but have said that Starr "is president and chancellor of Baylor University." On Tuesday, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman issued a statement to the American-Statesman: “The Baylor Board of Regents continues its work to review the findings of the Pepper Hamilton (law firm’s) investigation and we anticipate further communication will come after the Board completes its deliberations. We will not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources, but when official news is available, the University will provide it. We expect an announcement by June 3.”
• Briles, who took Baylor's team from obscurity to national prestige, is the other name that comes up most when discussing Baylor's troubles. The reports that Starr had been fired did not indicate that Briles had also been let go.
• How did Baylor and Starr get to where they are now? In 2014, sophomore defensive end Tevin Elliott was convicted of two counts of sexual assault. In the months that followed: a sexual assault conviction for transfer student and defensive lineman Sam Ukwuachu, the arrest of defensive end Shawn Oakman and reports that Baylor failed to act on other reports of assault. In February 2016, federal statistics were released that showed Baylor did not report a single instance of sexual assault from 2008 to 2011. And that's not all. Read a complete timeline of events in Baylor's sex assault scandal.
Ray O'Neal: "Good. Worthless hypocrite. Went after Clinton like an avenging angel. Covered up his mess like a lying, greedy, entitled buzzard."
Maureen Foradory: "Everyone has an opinion. It's sad! None of you know what happened...keep judging...God Bless U! Sic em' Bears!"
Dan Fish: "And what about Art Briles? Oh, that's right. Baylor would make a good SEC school."
Richard N. Sifers: "Power, fame, and money can ruin any institution, even a Baptist University. Very sad."
• In a Chicago Tribune opinion piece, Teddy Greenstein writes that the sex assault scandal taps into the worst stereotypes about Texas football programs, "living the cliche by protecting a coach who would suit up a predator if it might help him score an extra touchdown against TCU." A Houston Chronicle editorial similarly tackles the possibility of institutional cover-up: "It's hard to believe that neither Briles nor Starr were unaware of accusations of violent behavior by football players, hard to believe they weren't aware that Briles' program seemed to be tolerating criminal behavior on the part of students representing the university on scholarship. It appears they turned a blind eye."
• What of the role of faith in Baylor's current dilemma? The Washington Post examines how religious schools like the Baptist university deal with sex assault: "The reports about Starr were explosive among many evangelicals — Baptists in particular — because they tap into a couple of the most basic contemporary debates at religious schools. What is the impact in 2016 of the honor codes many religious schools have around sexual behavior? Secondly, is there a conflict between being a religious school and trying to be a major athletic powerhouse?"
• Starr, if he's still president for the foreseeable future, would be expected to attend next week’s scheduled Big 12 meetings about potential conference expansion, the American-Statesman's Suzanne Halliburton reports. Starr has been school president since 2010.
• Baylor's president became a household name in the 1990s as a key figure in another sex scandal: the one surrounding President Bill Clinton. On Tuesday, the New York Times' Amy Chozick reports that Starr has in recent years emerged as a friendly voice when the former U.S. president comes up: “'His genuine empathy for human beings is absolutely clear,' Mr. Starr said. 'It is powerful, it is palpable, and the folks of Arkansas really understood that about him — that he genuinely cared. The "I feel your pain" is absolutely genuine.'"