Art Briles, the former Baylor football coach who was fired in 2016 after a university investigation found that he and other coaches botched sexual assault accusations levied against football players, was hired Thursday as Grambling State University’s offensive coordinator, school officials said.
Briles had not coached in college football since his ousting from Baylor, but he was the head football coach at Mount Vernon High School in Texas before resigning in 2020. Briles, 66, also coached football in Florence, Italy, in 2018.
Briles’s hiring at Louisiana’s Grambling State, one of the most popular historically Black colleges in the United States, immediately raised questions about the program’s culture under Hue Jackson, the former Cleveland Browns head coach who was hired to lead the university’s football program in December.
Brian Howard, a spokesman for the athletic department, said it would not formally announce the hiring of Briles or discuss its reasons for bringing him back into college football. Howard added that Briles was interviewed by a reporter from a local television station and discussed some of the controversy surrounding his time at Baylor. The segment featuring Briles was scheduled to air on Thursday evening.
The sexual assault scandal marred Baylor for much of the 2010s as its football program brought millions of dollars to the university. A damning report by an outside law firm included numerous sexual assault allegations against football players — accusations that were often intentionally not reported to the proper authorities. The investigation found that Baylor instituted “a cultural perception that football was above the rules.”
In response, the university’s president, Kenneth Starr, was demoted to chancellor and eventually departed. The athletic director, Ian McCaw, who now holds the same position at Liberty University, resigned. And Briles was fired.
The university reached settlements with several women who reported harassment or assault and brought claims under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at universities.
Briles coaching Baylor in 2015.Credit…LM Otero/Associated Press
Last year, however, the N.C.A.A. ruled that Baylor did not violate its rules when it failed to report the sexual assault allegations, despite even the university’s own acknowledgment of repeated errors surrounding the scandals. A committee wrote that the allegations against members of Baylor’s football program, some of which led to criminal cases and convictions, did not only affect student-athletes, and instead took place in a “campuswide culture of sexual violence.” Because the allegations were not limited to just student-athletes, the committee concluded that it could not punish the university for a violation of N.C.A.A. rules.
After the firing, Briles apologized and acknowledged that he “made mistakes.” He said that in hindsight, he would have handled things differently at Baylor, where he had a 65-37 record and took a once insignificant program to two Big 12 championships.
In 2017, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League hired Briles as an assistant coach, but less than 24 hours later, after receiving widespread public backlash, they reneged and announced that he would not join the team.