what's going on at Baylor

The statements made by new Baylor football coach Jim Grobe regarding the Waco university’s sexual-misconduct scandal disappeared from the headlines almost as quickly as they had arrived.

Grobe tried to argue that what happened at Baylor was the same as it was everywhere else. I, however, am not yet convinced.

Grobe was speaking at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas when he tried to explain that what has gone on at Baylor is something that is part of the culture on any other campus in America.

Really? Because, based on what we are learning about Baylor’s activities, I can’t imagine any parent being willing to send their daughters – possibly sons, too – to any institutions of higher learning if the culture mirrors what took place at Baylor.

“We don’t have a culture of bad behavior at Baylor University,” Grobe said.

He went on to elaborate, saying:

“… the problems that we’re dealing with at Baylor or have dealt with at Baylor to this point are probably problems at every university in the country. I hate to say every one, but I’m guessing most universities are having some of the same issues we’ve had at Baylor.”

An avalanche of allegations

To recap what took place at Baylor, we can start in 2009, when football player Tevin Elliott allegedly sexually assaulted a female athlete. Then, in 2013, Penn State transfer Shawn Oakman was named in an incident report for physically assaulting a female. Keep in mind, there was a reason Oakman – who was an All-American defensive end at Baylor – transferred from Penn State, which has had its own share of campus issues.

Later that year, football players Tre’Von Armstead and Myke Chatman were named in a police report for alleged sexual assault. And still, in 2013, Boise State transfer Sam Ukwuachu was accused of sexually assaulting a former soccer player, a crime he was convicted of in 2015.

In 2014, three women, one of whom was the 2009 victim, accused Elliott of sexually assaulting them. The allegations began to avalanche in 2015, when the victim in the Ukwuachu case filed a lawsuit against Baylor University for the way it handled the case – the lawsuit was settled later in the year. In between all of that, Boise State football coach Chris Petersen said he informed Baylor of issues Ukwuachu had during his time there. Also that year, Armstead was dismissed from the team for a “team rules violation.”

This year, the Elliott rape victim from 2009 also filed a lawsuit against the school. Oakman was arrested and charged for the alleged sexual assault of a woman leaving a bar.

Cover ups and negligence

That is far too many incidents of sexual assault for any university, let alone a private Christian institution in Texas. There is no doubt that some level of misbehavior exists at most — if not all — major college campuses throughout the U.S. We have certainly seen some of the headlines involving athletes getting in trouble at OU and OSU, but to compare what happened at Baylor to the cultures at other universities is more than troubling.

The problem with Baylor is the way the alleged and confirmed sexual misconduct cases were covered up and neglected. At least one of the lawsuits was filed as a result of the victim’s complaints being ignored. Not only was the behavior by student athletes happening, but the trail of irresponsibility seemed to clearly be working its way to the top. Head football coach Art Briles apparently knew but did nothing. Victims showed proof of attempts to reach out to school president Ken Starr (yes, the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky investigator) that went ignored. With the possible exception of Penn State during the Jerry Sandusky scandal, this is not a culture we are used to seeing on other college campuses. It seems as if Grobe is already drinking whatever is in the water in Waco.

It may seem like piling on, but this is the second major black mark on the face of the Baylor athletic department, following the scandal involving a basketball player who murdered a fellow teammate. Even then, it was the cover-up by former OU men’s basketball coach Dave Bliss that drove Baylor’s basketball program into a tailspin for several years.

What’s going on at Baylor is a heightened exception

I spent time at three Oklahoma universities during a period of 13 years: Southwestern Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma. My ultimate goal was to get a degree, and I can only assume this is the goal of most, if not all, college students.

As far as I can predict, my college-campus days are over, at least as a student. My 16-year-old son, however, will be on a campus soon, and it scares me to think there may be administrators who would allow this type of behavior to exist. My belief is that what happened at Baylor is a heightened exception to what really happens on campuses.

Sure, our kids are going to drink and party and have more fun than they should. Don’t try to convince me THAT doesn’t happen at every campus. They are going to make mistakes, too. But I refuse to believe they are going to consistently take it way too far, and that they are going to get help from administrators to get away with it.

Sorry Jim Grobe, not on my campus.