WACO, Texas (KWTX) Sources with direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of a junior college recruit raised questions Saturday about the university’s response to KWTX’s report that top administration officials ordered athletic department officials to kick the player off the team and remove his scholarship in what the player’s attorney calls an “egregious denial of basic due process.”
Jeremy Faulk. (Photo by Randy Davis)
Jeremy Faulk, a junior college recruit who was kicked off the team and stripped of his scholarship before the season started because of a Title IX investigation, won an appeal against Baylor and had his scholarship reinstated in July, KWTX has learned.
However, a Title IX investigation that has remained open for more than four months has kept Faulk off the field.
Patty Crawford, who resigned her position as Title IX coordinator this week after filing a retaliation complaint against Baylor Senior Vice President for Operations and CFO Reagan Ramsower, said in secret audio recordings obtained by KWTX, that it was Ramsower who made her turn the accused player's name over to administration before Faulk was dismissed.
In a statement Friday, however, Executive Associate Athletic Director Nick Joos said the decision to remove Faulk was "based upon violations of the university and athletic department Code of Conduct...and did not require other Executive Council members nor Title IX staff involvement.
The carefully worded statement rejects concerns Crawford expressed during the secretly recorded meeting about the legality of the dismissal and confirms that interim head football coach Jim Grobe ultimately dismissed the player, but it does not explicitly deny that the orders to kick the player off the team came from top administrators including Ramsower and Associate General Counsel Doug Welch, whose name was also raised during Crawford’s meeting with the staffers.
On Friday, Baylor named Welch chief compliance officer, based on the recommendation of the Pepper Hamilton law firm that reviewed the school’s sexual assault scandal.
On Saturday, sources with direct knowledge confirmed that the directive to dismiss Faulk came from above.
Grobe informed Faulk of the dismissal, one knowledgeable source said, but had just recently arrived and barely even knew who the player was.
Jeff Sims, the coach he followed from Florida Atlantic to Garden City, told KWTX in an interview that he called Grobe after learning of the dismissal and that Grobe told him that “if Jeremy left the Title IX investigation would just go away.”
Faulk’s attorney, Richard Tate, also took issue with the statement, which he said “misses the point.”
“While it is true that participation in college athletics is a privilege and not a right, imposing the equivalent of the death penalty (expulsion from school) in a Title IX proceeding before the proceeding gets underway is illegal,” he said in an email.
“No matter how hard they try to say they did not expel him from school, they made it impossible for him to do anything other than leave. To say otherwise is disingenuous, dishonest and downright reprehensible.”
Faulk was recruited from Garden City Community College in Kansas, to which he transferred from Florida Atlantic University to follow his coach.
He spent the spring semester at Baylor, but in June he learned that a female student had talked with police about a sexual encounter she had with him and another man.
She didn’t want to press charges, and Faulk says the sex was consensual, but Baylor’s Title IX Office started to look into the case.
But before Faulk was interviewed, or even told what the specific allegation was, administration got his name and decided to strip him of his scholarship after learning of an incident at Florida Atlantic that campus officers there later described as a dorm prank.
Faulk and a teammate had walked into another teammate’s dorm room.
That teammate was under the covers, naked, with his girlfriend. Faulk and the other player teased them, saying they were going to pull the sheets off.
Police were called, but said the issue was being handled by the coaches.
“Coach Grobe called me in the office and told me the administration had to release me and he said there was nothing he could do. It was out of his hands,” Faulk said in an interview with KWTX.
Although he was technically still enrolled, Faulk, with no scholarship, and no money for housing, was left on the streets until his mother sent him enough money to get home.
“It was crazy because I went back home and I couldn’t even tell people around my city what happened. Everyone kept asking me and I didn’t know what to say so, to them I did something wrong,” he said.
He’s now back at Garden City Community College, from which he has already graduated.
He has been waiting, for more than four months, for a resolution to the Title IX case.
“It is the most egregious denial of basic due process that I have seen in 38 years of law practice. I could not have imagined that a person would be denied just the fundamental opportunity to defend himself,” Tate, said.
Tate, who practices in Richmond, agreed to represent Faulk for free after learning of the situation.
Faulk and Tate appealed to Baylor in June, saying Faulk lost his scholarship without any due process, and, in fact, without being provided with a reason.
“By the next day, they take this situation which was nothing more than a dormitory prank and they blow it out of proportion. They call it sexual harassment. Two strikes you’re out, and he was shocked,” Tate said.
On July 1, an appeals panel, comprised of three staff members from the school's Student Financial Aid Office, ruled in Faulk’s favor, and demanded reinstatement of Faulk’s scholarship, but Baylor officials countered that Faulk could not play football because the Title IX investigation was still underway.
Faulk says that as far as he knows, the investigation is still open, but he’s still not been provided with details about the specific accusations.
Sims, meanwhile, says Faulk has not been treated fairly.
“He busted his tail to become academically right, He busted his tail to prove he’s a good enough football player to be back to that level and then it’s like Groundhog Day, it’s rewind. And now he’s got to prove himself again,” Sims said.
“The only thing that’s been important through this whole process with the young ladies, with a guy like Jeremy, is Baylor. The name Baylor, the image of Baylor. I’m embarrassed how they treat their students,” he said.
Faulk’s abrupt dismissal surfaced in a meeting between athletic department staffers and Crawford.
KWTX earlier obtained secretly recorded audio from the meeting, during which she told the staffers she was “fighting very hard to have the authority to make sure this process is followed, and that we do get communication to the point where we have gotten agreements from university leadership that I will not divulge names, even, to anybody.”
She told the staffers that it would be a violation of her office’s policy to reveal a name and said if a player was kicked off a team based solely on a report of allegation, it would be “a disaster.”
One staff member asked her to “Go back to Jeremy Faulk.”
“How did they find out? Did you ever assess that? You ever find out how they found out?” the staffer asked.
“(Baylor Senior Vice President for Operations and CFO) Reagan Ramsower and those guys, how did they find out?” the staffer asked.
“Reagan is my boss,” Crawford replied.
“So I've been told I need to give names.”
Crawford, in a federal civil rights complaint, alleges that was subjected to retaliatory actions by Ramsower, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
The complaint alleged Ramsowner took away her authority to handle Title IX complaints and accused her of “doing her job too well,” the source said.
A previous News 10 investigation revealed fired coach Art Briles learned of the accusation against Faulk by two regents who visited his office on May 13. Sources tell KWTX Faulk's case was presented to the board shortly after Pepper Hamilton's presentation and was "the straw that broke the camel's back" for some board members.