Baylor reform group calls for independent investigation

(Photo by Randy Davis)
(Photo by Randy Davis)(KWTX)
Published: Dec. 5, 2016 at 1:03 PM CST
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Bears for Leadership Reform called Monday for an independent investigation of Baylor Board of Regents actions dating back to before the scathing Pepper Hamilton report in May.

The call came during a meeting Monday morning in Dallas between representatives of the reform group and Regents Cary Gray, Jerry Clements and Joel Allison.

“We’ve lost faith in Pepper Hamilton,” former Texas Gov. Mark White said after the meeting.

“The secrecy surrounding it does not pass the smell test,” John Eddie Williams said.

White, Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane, Houston attorney John Eddie Williams and former Regent Randy Ferguson represented the reform group in the meeting Monday.

Williams said they had a “spirited discussion” with the three regents.

He said the reform group asked about the total cost of the scandal to the school including lawsuit settlements, but said the regents "stonewalled" and declined to provide the figure.

He said the BLR wants to help in picking the independent investigator and wants “all the facts to be known.”

“We emphasized to regents that this issue is not going to go away,” he said.

“We want to be sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

The BLR is asking regents to move quickly on the request.

Williams said the independent investigation would include interviews of former head coach Art Briles, former Chancellor and President Ken Starr, and former athletic director Ian McCaw.

Regent Jerry Clements, an Austin lawyer, said the request will be taken to the full board for discussion of whether a third-party review is viable.

She said she believes the board has been forthcoming.

“We’ve been speaking to proper constituents all along,” she said.

“You all don’t just really know what’s going on with the Board of Regents,” she told reporters after the meeting.

When asked how she feels the board and the school have handled the victims of sexual assaults, she replied: "So long as I can get up and look in the mirror every morning and say that I've done the right thing for those students that experience these awful things that happened to them on campus then then that's what's important to me."

The lengthy review by the Pepper Hamilton law firm led to the firing of Briles, reassignment of Starr and suspension of athletic director McCaw in May.

But the review was flawed, according to university insiders to whom KWTX talked during a months-long investigation.

Information from sources with direct knowledge of the review, and secret recordings of meetings with athletic staffers obtained by KWTX, suggest that the firm’s investigators came to Waco with an agenda to purge members of the football program and had a racial undertone in their line of questioning.

Williams said the regents confirmed Monday, as KWTX has reported, that Pepper Hamilton investigators did not interview any athletes during their lengthy review.

More than 10,000 Baylor supporters have signed up to join Bears for Leadership Reform, which was formed in response to the controversy over how the school’s board of regents responded to a scathing review of the university’s handling of sexual assault reports.

Organizers say the group wants to “restore integrity to the world’s largest Baptist University.”