It takes a village to enable a sexual predator. Baylor University is one such village. This is especially ironic since Baylor's mission is to "educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and commitment within a caring community." This caring community also happened to ignore a spate of alleged sexual assaults perpetrated by its star football players.
Worse, while Baylor has become a paragon of hypocrisy, the NCAA has ignored the scandal, instead using its authority to punish students at Charleston Southern who used money left over from their book allowance to buy school supplies.
In November, after the Pepper Hamilton investigation uncovered 17 sexual assaults involving 19 players, the NCAA claimed that the sexual assault scandal was outside of their jurisdiction, opting instead to investigate recruiting violations. This despite findings that the football program and Athletics department leadership failed "to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player, to take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, and to take action in response to a report of dating violence."
How many rapes and how much evidence of inaction on the part of coaches and administrators will it take to meet the NCAA's threshold for action? This past week, a new lawsuit alleges that from 2011 to 2014, 31 Baylor football players committed at least 52 rapes, emboldened by the school's "culture of sexual violence."
Institutional control issues aside, civil suits and Title IX investigations do not absolve the NCAA of their stated responsibility "to provide a fair, inclusive, and fulfilling environment." Even sites hosting NCAA events must "demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination -- and also safeguard the dignity of everyone involved."
How is it possible that the NCAA can have one set of standards for event host sites and a different set of standards for teams? Baylor's football program was not a safe environment, and it was not one that promoted dignity, especially for the women raped by its players and subsequently ignored by its leaders. These leaders, particularly former head coach Art Briles, were particularly tone deaf, positioning themselves and their team as the true victims, tweeting #truthdontlie and #becourageous in May 2016 when these troubling reports began to emerge and gain traction in the media.
If the state of North Carolina cannot host NCAA events, neither should Baylor. If the NCAA isn't going to address Baylor's glaring lack of institutional control, they should at least be consistent in how they provide a safe, healthy environment at football games. Should opposing teams and their fans have to watch a sporting event at a site where complaints of sexual assault were ignored and their football-player perpetrators were shielded from consequences?
Though sexual assault is a very private crime, it takes a community to embolden and enable perpetrators. Baylor's football team and athletic department created and fortified rape culture, further traumatizing victims and endangering women through their reported crimes and subsequent inaction. If the NCAA doesn't impose the death penalty on Baylor, at the very least it should consider the school's rapist-enabling community an unsuitable place to host NCAA events.