BU football hostess program members take issue with latest lawsuit

Former Baylor Bruin members Celica Covington (left) and Susu Taylor. (Courtesy photo)
Former Baylor Bruin members Celica Covington (left) and Susu Taylor. (Courtesy photo)(KWTX)
Published: Feb. 2, 2017 at 7:15 PM CST
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Former members of the Baylor Bruins, a football recruit hostess group, are defending the organization after a Jane Doe lawsuit filed last week claimed the number of rapes by football players was far worse than reported, and the university's football program was using attractive female students as recruiting bait.

“Though the Bruins had an official policy of no sexual contact with the recruits or football players, Baylor had an unofficial policy of looking the other way when there was sexual intercourse between the Bruins and the football players,” the suit alleges.

The suit alleges one Bruin hostess was impregnated by a member of the football team.

Former Bruin member Tenley Gummelt said since the lawsuit was filed last week, people have been broad-brushing every woman who was ever part of the organization as “easy.”

"It’s hurtful,” said Gummelt, who was a member of the Baylor Bruins from 2010 to 2011.

"There are so many good people at Baylor, so many good people, and just unfortunately those good people have been overshadowed by mistakes of a few people, and I hate that, I hate it.”

Gummelt is one of several women who has come forward to defend Baylor Bruins following the latest suit, which was filed on Jan. 27 in Dallas County on behalf of a former Baylor student, identified only as Jane Doe, who the suit says was a member of the organization.

The suit alleges she was raped by two football players in April 2013 and claims that the football program’s “rape culture” resulted in 52 rapes involving at least 31 players between 2011 and 2014.

The 26-page suit includes no documentary support for the number of rapes and players, which far exceeds the number provided by Baylor regents, who told the Wall Street Journal in November that the scandal that engulfed the football program involved 17 women who reported sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 players including four gang rapes since 2011.

The suit claims in one instance, unnamed coaches sent two women from the Baylor Bruins program to a hotel room to have sex with two potential recruits.

Gummelt, who now working on a master’s degree in Christian counseling in the Frisco area with her youth-pastor husband, says she would have never joined an organization with that type of culture.

“If something like that was going on, people would know,” Gummelt said.

“And I never, never heard anything like that was going on at all."

Baylor junior Susu Taylor, a member of the Bruins from 2015 to 2016, said she’s convinced nothing like the 2013 allegations happened during her time in the organization.

"There's a possibility of course, were you there? No. Was I there? Certainly not,” said Taylor.

“I can't speak on that, but while I was there in 2015, nothing, nothing of that."

Taylor said the rules for dealing with recruits were very strict; no calling or texting them, no adding or accepting them on social media, no gifts, and absolutely no off-campus recruiting.

"We don't exist to them after the football game,” said Taylor.

"It was so strict that it was like, you were 'OK, can I do this?’ you would ask a fellow Bruin, just like making sure.”

She describes the organization as a group of girls who like sports and volunteering.

If they made it into the organization after an interview process, they got perks such as front row seats at football games, plus a resume boost.

However, Taylor said she volunteered because it was fun, almost like a sorority for spirited and sports-minded women with good values.

"People don't think we have Christian values just because everything that's been going on, but Just because a few instances have happened doesn't mean all 40 girls don't have these values and that we would subject ourselves to having sex for money, with football recruits for money,” Taylor said.

“We just wanted to make everybody feel as welcome as possible and just answer any questions anybody had about the university.”

She said the group’s members weren’t left alone with recruits, and mostly spent time with their families keeping the media and fans at bay.

"We weren't told to show the recruits a good time, we were told to go work on all the jobs no one wanted to do, like hand out napkins," laughed Taylor.

Celica Covington was a member at the same time as Taylor.

She said the claims in the lawsuit were outrageous.

“It’s like blasphemy,” Covington said.

“I don’t want the Baylor Bruins to have this legacy of pretty much being escorts.”

The lawsuit claims the university had a “policy of show ‘em a good time recruiting” in which coaching staff would pay for parties and arrange for alcohol, drugs, strip club visits, and hotel room stays with Baylor Bruins in an effort to lure recruits to play football for Baylor.

"I interacted with them (the football staff) and never, ever was any of that kind of stuff relayed, ever,” Gummelt said.

“I wouldn't have wanted to be involved with or associated with an organization that would promote that kind of stuff, and I never heard a hint of it at all."

She also said she would have reported any inappropriate behavior she saw or heard.

"If I would have heard anything like that I would have quit immediately,” Gummelt said.

“I mean really, I wouldn't have been ashamed to blow the whistle at something like that.”

The group was disbanded at the end of the 2016 football season.

Baylor officials would not say why, but told KWTX the group merged with an existing campus welcoming organization.

“The previous function of the Baylor Bruins has been incorporated into the undergraduate admissions process. The group no longer exists,” Baylor spokeswoman Tonya Lewis said.

“A group of male and female students accompanies and tours prospective student-athletes while on campus, just like they do for all prospective students. The co-ed group serves as the university's official visit ambassadors, touring all prospective students, not solely student-athletes, while also representing Baylor at donor-centric and other events."

Lewis added, the Bruins organization has never been a part of the Athletic Department, having reported previously to Constituent Engagement and now the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Formerly Baylor Gold, the Baylor Bruins have merged into a group now called the Visit Experience Representatives, of which Covington is a member while she finishes her psychology degree.

Taylor has decided to focus on becoming a social worker, and since the scandal is more motivated than ever to defend her name, and her university.

“Like, this is still a great place, it’s just been tainted with this stuff,” Taylor said.

The attorneys involved in the suit didn’t respond to requests for comment.