For over a year, Baylor University was plagued with allegations of sexual assault surrounding its university, but more importantly in the media’s eye; the football team. However, it eventually become apparent that these were not just rumors or allegations: they were facts.
The Baylor Bears were surging as one of college football’s rising powers, and showed no sign of slowing down. Former Head Coach, Art Briles, implemented college football’s most efficient offense in 2015, leading the country in PPG (points per game).
The Waco Tribune provided a timeline of the events that led up to these stunning and horrific findings in the 2015 Pepper Hamilton LLP report. All of these events occurred while Ian McCaw was the Athletic Director at Baylor.
April 30, 2012: Baylor Football’s Tevin Coleman was arrested on a sexual assault charge at a party a few days earlier.
In July of 2012, Shawn Oakman transferred to Baylor from Penn State. Oakman was previously dismissed from the Penn State program for his ‘off-field issues’, including stealing and assault.
Oakman didn’t stay quiet for long; on January 10, 2013, he was mentioned in a police report alleging physical violence. Oakman was described as “grabbing the alleged victim under her armpits and shoving her into brick walls and cabinets in her South Waco apartment.” No charges were filed.
April 18, 2013: Tre’Von Armstead and Myke Chatman were named in a police report alleging sexual assault at an off-campus apartment. Charges were not filed, and Baylor did not investigate the case until September 2015, according to ESPN.
May 22, 2013: Sam Ukwuachu, a freshman All-American from Boise State, transfers to Baylor after being dismissed for “an unspecified violation of team policy”. A short five months later, while sitting the season out due to NCAA eligibility rules, Ukwuachu was accused of sexually assaulting a freshman soccer player at a homecoming party.
In mid-August, Ukwuachu was found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to probation and 180 days in jail. After another accusation of sexual assault from an athlete occurred (this time a men’s tennis player) in August of 2015, Baylor’s Board of Regents hired Pepper Hamilton LLP to conduct an investigation on how the University handled these cases.
The report found not only that these cases had been mishandled, but dozens more were brought out that had been so-called “swept under the rug”. Baylor held its comments back for a while, but it appeared it was too late to recover from this cluster of a PR nightmare.
At the forefront of any scandal is the athletic director: in this case, Ian McCaw. McCaw resigned May 30, 2016 from Baylor University, shortly after hiring an interim Head Football Coach, Jim Grobe (formerly at Wake Forest). McCaw’s involvement and knowledge of the different allegations is still murky at best. His name was taken off the school’s lawsuit, so that he and a few other members of the administration as well as football coaches could be sued individually.
November 28, 2016: Former Baylor University Athletic Director Ian McCaw is hired as the new Athletic Director at Liberty University. This move has not been met with open arms, as one might imagine. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni, took to social media to express their disappointment in the school’s hiring. ESPN reported that a “leaked source” shared with them that the move was strictly done by the school’s President, Jerry Falwell Jr. However, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. released a Q&A for the Liberty community to read through in order to get some answers on the hiring and share who was involved in the process.
If there were some way to look past the enormous amount of scandal involved with Ian McCaw and the Baylor Athletic Department, this hire would seem like a slam-dunk. However, the overwhelming majority of tweets, posts, and conversations seem to be focused on McCaw’s past and his former employer, not what he could do positively for Liberty’s athletic program.
On the other hand, those at Baylor University seem to still speak highly of Ian McCaw. In fact, a former member of their athletic department said, “I believe when it is all said and done, they will find that Ian McCaw did nothing wrong.”
There is some tension in Lynchburg, as the athletic department’s new leader is getting settled in. Many questions are still to be answered. Will head football coach Turner Gill remain in his position? Or will Ian McCaw’s first move be to bring in a “big time” coach that can get the program to the next level?
At this point, all anyone can do is wait and see. The decision to hire Ian McCaw is a high risk, high reward scenario. If his involvement in Baylor’s scandals was truly false, Liberty has gotten a steal of an Athletic Director, and possibly the greatest hire to date. On the other hand, if something were to come out about McCaw having more involvement, it could severely harm the reputation of the University and its alumni.