Canadian and American football are different, and not just because Canadians play on a longer field.
Apparently they — eventually — have a conscience north of the border, too.
Disgraced Baylor head coach Art Briles was briefly hired Monday as an assistant coach by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League, but his tenure lasted less than 11 hours. Amid blowback from outraged fans, Briles — who oversaw the Baylor program during a era stained by alleged, rampant sexual assault — was let go.
The team issued an apology Tuesday morning.
“We made a large and serious mistake,” Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young said in a statement. “We want to apologize to our fans, corporate partners and the Canadian Football League. It has been a difficult season and we are searching for answers. This is clearly not one of them. We have listened, we are reviewing our decision-making processes and we will learn. We will go on. We want to thank our fans, partners and the CFL for their help and support.”
Briles, 61, was fired from his college job after an investigation found Baylor football players were running wild for years under his watch. A lawsuit filed last year alleges at least 31 football players committed more than 50 rapes between 2011 and 2014, while Briles was coach.
Briles coached at Baylor from 2008-2015.
Baylor President Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw also resigned following a review of the program by law firm Pepper Hamilton that found more than a dozen accusations of sexual assault connected to the program between 2012 and 2016.
Tevin Elliot, a Baylor linebacker, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2013 for sexually assaulting a student twice. Earlier this month, the school settled a Title IX lawsuit with his victim, Jasmin Hernandez.
In 2015, another player, Sam Ukwuachu, was found guilty of sexually assaulting another female student, but the decision was later overturned. Last year, Shawn Oakman, another Baylor player, was arrested for the same crime.
Following the convictions of Elliot and Ukuwachu, the school hired Pepper Hamilton to conduct an independent investigation of how the school handled those and other incidents involving athletes. Last year, Baylor’s Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford also resigned and accused the the school’s board of obstructing her from doing her job and protecting the football program.
The school is currently under investigation, despite an attempt this year to dismiss a lawsuit filed by alleged victims.
Briles has previously apologized for “bad things that went on under my watch.”
On Monday, the 0-7 Tiger-Cats named him an assistant coach, an announcement that was met with instant outrage. Barry’s Jewelers, one of the team’s sponsors, denounced the hiring.
“We strongly condemn and urge the team’s management and ownership to immediately sever any ties they may have,” the company said in a statement. “Mr. Briles may or may not have a valid coaching track record, but to choose the chance of winning football over the importance of values goes beyond our core values and is absolutely not acceptable.”
Like we see all the time in the NFL (hello, Dallas Cowboys) at first, the team defended hiring Briles.
“This is about giving someone a second chance and we’re committed to doing that,” Tiger-Cats CEO Scott Mitchell had said, according to The Canadian Press. “For every reaction that you’re getting from social media and media, there’s a tremendous amount of support behind the scenes for a tough decision. I think a lot of people in this world, including myself, have made bad decisions and have regrets and I certainly feel strongly that in this case, Art Briles deserves a second opportunity.”
After further review, he’ll have to find it somewhere else.
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