Baylor official at center of Title IX controversy to step down as VP

Dr. Reagan Ramsower. (Baylor University photo/file)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Dr. Reagan Ramsower, who was at the center of the controversy over the school’s handling of Title IX sexual assault complaints is stepping down as the school’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, university President Dr. Linda Livingstone announced in a letter to faculty and staff Wednesday.

He will transition out of the position at the end of the school’s current fiscal year on May 31, 2018, the letter said.

Ramsower will continue to serve Baylor as a full professor in the Hankamer School of Business, the letter said.

“I appreciate Dr. Ramsower’s leadership and deep calling for the University, particularly over the past two years,” Livingstone said.

“He has played an integral role in Baylor’s growth in many areas over the past decade as the campus expanded significantly in terms of both population, physical space and buildings, as well as in increasing Baylor’s engagement with the Waco community,” she said.

Ramsower oversees the university’s administrative and financial operations including the Baylor Department of Public Safety, which was accused of burying sexual assault complaints.

In February, Bears for Leadership Reform, a group that called for extensive changes and increased transparency in the wake of the sexual assault scandal that engulfed the school’s football program last year, called for the resignation of Ramsower, along with the university’s Board of Regents.

“We are pointing out a major failure of leadership and calling on the board to go, including school Vice President Reagan Ramsower," BLR President John Eddie Williams said at the time.

The group did not have an immediate comment Wednesday.

The former head of Baylor’s Title IX Office and a former office employee have both accused Ramsower of retaliating against them for trying to comply with Title IX requirements.

In January, former Baylor Title IX employee Gabrielle Lyons a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights against the University, saying Baylor officials discriminated against her and attempted to intimidate her while she tried to investigate sexual assault cases.

The complaint essentially mirrored the complaints made earlier by former Baylor Title IX Administrator Patty Crawford, under whom Lyons worked.

Crawford filed a similar complaint alleging discrimination and intimidation before resigning her position in October 2016.

According to Lyons’ attorney Rogge Dunn, Baylor administrators including Ramsower ignored complaints that Baylor’s Title IX office was understaffed, and that the numerous allegations of rape the office was handling was causing emotional stress for employees.

"I was having nightmares about rape, so was the rest of my team," said Lyons.

Lyons also suggested that victims of alleged assaults needed additional counseling, but that “Ramsower did not seem to care about that”.

"He was dismissive of that, 'it was not our problem anymore,'" said Lyons of Ramsower.

Dunn said Lyons’ complaint was “totally consistent” with Crawford’s claims that the Title IX office was set up to fail, was not supported by the university, and that Crawford was retaliated against for trying to comply with Title IX.

Dunn represented both Lyons and Crawford.

Baylor, however, countered that Lyons and the Title IX officer were supported.

"Resources were made available as requested by the Title IX Coordinator", the school said.

"Support for the Title IX office through budget increases, staff increases, space allocations, morale-boosting endeavors and access to resources across campus has been well documented."

Baylor also responded that Lyons never raised these complaints with Baylor while she was employed, or at the time of her departure.

After resigning in October 2016, Crawford spoke publicly in national media appearances, saying that Baylor “set her up to fail” and that Ramsower retaliated against her as she tried to push for independence to do her job appropriately.

She was interviewed in a critical report that aired in November 2016 on “60 Minutes Sports” on the Showtime network in which she said Ramsower was angered by a 16-page memo she wrote to him in July 2016.

“He was not happy. And I was shocked. I was yelled at. I was told ‘don't ever put anything in writing to me again. You talk to me in person. You call me on the phone. But don't put anything in writing,’” she said.

Ramsower denied telling her not to put anything in writing.

“I did not say that. And I was not ranting and railing. That's just complete fabrication,” he told CBS.

In a subsequent interview in Dallas with KWTX, however, Crawford repeated her claim,

“They don't want things in writing. They work very hard to make sure things are not in writing, they get rid of documents as soon as they can,” she told KWTX.

In response, Baylor said “Crawford lacked the administrative skills to manage the Title IX Office,” and said that after three Title IX investigators quit within a year, the school’s Human Resources Department worked with her on a plan to better manage resources and personnel.”

Crawford found herself at the center of a controversy that started after Pepper Hamilton, the law firm the school hired to review its handling of sexual assault complaints, delivered a scathing report to university regents in May 2016.

The findings led to the firing of head football coach Art Briles, the reassignment of Chancellor and President Ken Starr and the suspension of athletic director Ian McCaw.

Starr and Briles have since reached settlements with the university.

McCaw is now athletic director at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

A report of the findings of the review by Pepper Hamilton summarizes over 13 pages the inadequacies it found at Baylor with respect to inattention and misconduct by university administrators and leadership in the athletic department regarding Title IX issues.

Ramsower earned a BBA from Baylor in 1974 and a master’s degree in 1976.

He joined the faculty of the business school in 1983 and remained there until moving into administration in 2000.