Decision to kick JC recruit off team was not his, Baylor coach says

Jim Grobe. (File)
Jim Grobe. (File)(KWTX)
Published: Oct. 10, 2016 at 4:38 PM CDT
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Baylor head coach Jim Grobe told KWTX Monday the decision to strip junior college recruit Jeremy Faulk of his scholarship and kick him off the team was made by administrators, saying it’s his usual practice and the practice of most coaches to wait until issues are resolved before deciding whether a player “can represent the football team.”

That contradicts a statement Friday from Executive Associate Athletic Director Nick Joos who said: “The action to remove Jeremy from the football team was taken by the interim director of athletics and acting head football coach, and did not require other Executive Council members nor Title IX staff involvement.

Grobe was questioned about Faulk’s dismissal during his weekly news conference Monday.

“If you’ve got players on your team that have been implicated in any wrongdoing you have to decide if they can represent the football team or not and that’s always the football coach’s decision,” Grobe said in response.

“I think that’s the way most coaches deal with problems if you’ve got kids that have issues they may come back to the football team, but they may not temporarily be able to represent the football team and that’s not just Jeremy it’s any kid on our football team,” he said.

But Grobe later called KWTX to say that while he and the athletic director decided to remove Faulk from the team temporarily during the investigation, they did not make the decision to kick him off the team and strip him of his scholarship.

Sources told KWTX that Grobe made the call after a number of assistant coaches complained that the football staff was tired of taking the heat for a decision that was made by administrators.

Sources with direct knowledge of the situation told KWTX earlier that Grobe was directed by administrators to kick Faulk off the team.

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.

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 days earlier, in an email on June 28, Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Keith Miller wrote, "While we are preparing for this upcoming appeal, I wanted to make sure it was clear that Jeremy will not be a member of the football team regardless of the outcome of the appeal of the cancellation of athletic aid. The decision of his removal from the football team is final and not subject to appeal. "

The carefully worded statement released by Joos on Friday 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.

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 in the final hours of the Pepper Hamilton presentation and was "the straw that broke the camel's back" for some board members.

(Troy Hein contributed to this story)

10.07.16 Statement from Executive Associate Athletic Director Nick Joos:

“Contrary to recently reported misinformation, Jeremy Faulk was removed from the football program on June 3rd based upon violations of the University and Athletic Department Code of Conduct. The action to remove Jeremy from the football team was taken by the Interim Director of Athletics and Acting Head Football Coach, and did not require other Executive Council members nor Title IX staff involvement. Participation on any Baylor Athletics team is a privilege and not a right. Removing someone from that privilege is not “illegal” as has been stated. It is important to also note that Baylor University follows all NCAA rules relative to the scholarship appeals process for its student-athletes.”