Holly Snyder was on her couch watching the Royals from her Gardner home on Tuesday evening “about the time Brett Eibner injured his ankle” when she hit the send button from her laptop.
The U.S. Department of Education had just received a Title IX complaint from a Baylor University graduate who loves her school and hates what has occurred, the allegations against sexual assaults and violence by football players against Baylor students and the school’s mishandling of the incidents.
“This isn’t about Baylor football,” Snyder said. “It’s about justice not being done.”
Snyder, 37-year-old a stay-at-home mom, said as news of the sexual assaults were reported, she assumed that Baylor would take action.
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“I just believed Baylor, the Waco police, the campus police would be on the victim’s side of things,” Snyder said. “But students still weren’t safe.”
So Snyder decided to act. From a Google search, Snyder learned that a Title IX complaint which can trigger an investigation by the agency’s Office of Civil Rights could be filed by anybody. Complaints can take from a month to a year to receive initial confirmation.
Football coach Art Briles, athletic director Ian McCaw and university president Ken Starr have lost their jobs but to Snyder a full accounting of the previous few years should be part of the public record.
Baylor is a private school but is required by Title IX to investigate allegations thoroughly and to provide security, counseling and academic help to those who report assaults.
In her complaint Snyder said she wanted Baylor to be fully investigated “to the full extent regarding actions it took to create a climate that covered up sexual violence on campus for years.”
Remarkably, this isn’t the first stomach-turning scandal of the 21st century involving college football players and rape, and the settlement of a Title IX lawsuit at Colorado about a decade ago brought an ugly chapter to a close.
Two women said they were raped at a party one of the women hosted for football recruits. In their lawsuit, the women claimed university and athletic officials knew female students were at risk of sexual harassment or assault by football players or recruits but did nothing to prevent it. A federal judge in Denver dismissed the lawsuit, but a U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision and said the assaults were the result of a lack of supervision by Colorado and “deliberate indifference.”
Like Baylor, Colorado’s major players paid with their jobs. Over a 13-month period, the university president, the Boulder campus chancellor and the athletic director resigned, and football coach Gary Barnett was fired. The settlement cost Colorado nearly $6 million and the school made sweeping changes to its recruiting guidelines.
Something else has happened to Colorado football and Baylor should brace itself for this possibility: The Buffaloes have not posted a winning record since 2006. There have been three different full time head coaches and four double digit loss seasons.
Before the scandal, Colorado posted 16 winning records in the previous 19 seasons, one national championship, a Big 12 title and four appearances in the Big 12 championship game.
Baylor’s growth rate has been more accelerated, from Big 12 doormat to national championship contender in a flash. The Bears are 57-23 over the past six seasons after 14 straight losing records. They’ve won two Big 12 championships in the past three years and prospects were encouraging for a big 2016 season.
But with a new head coach in Grobe, who hasn’t shared the same up-tempo offensively philosophy as Briles, and a staff that includes Briles’ son Kendal and his son in law Jeff Lebby it’s easy to envision some tension among the staff.
The long term figures to be even more difficult. Baylor has a beautiful new stadium and the school sits in the heart of some of the nation’s most fertile recruiting territory. But there is little history of success to draw from, and there is the specter of NCAA sanctions. The university has contacted the NCAA to discuss possible infractions and offer cooperation.
Several top football recruits who pledged to attend Baylor next season have decommited, and despite its location the school doesn’t figure to be a popular destination for top talent as the fallout continues.
None of that matters to Snyder.
“I think sometimes people believe society takes care of these things,” Snyder said. “Baylor is a wonderful school with a beautiful campus. I want it to be a safe campus.”