WACO, Texas (KWTX) Former Baylor football recruit Jeremy Faulk, who says he was kicked off the team and wrongfully stripped of his scholarship, left with no place to stay, no food to eat and forced to sleep on the streets of Waco until his mother could get the money to fly him home to Florida has filed suit against the university.
The suit, filed Wednesday in 414th State District Court in Waco alleging Title IX violations and breach of contract, claims that Faulk was the victim of a “zero-tolerance policy” implemented in the wake of the scathing Pepper Hamilton review of the sexual assault scandal that engulfed the school’s football program and led to the reassignment of Chancellor and President Ken Starr, firing of head coach Art Briles and suspension of athletic director Ian McCaw on May 26, 2016.
“It is important to understand that this court filing represents only one side of the story in an attempt to generate sensational, factually baseless headlines,” Baylor said in a statement Friday.
“Baylor contends that the plaintiff’s claims as filed today are without merit, and we look forward to a vigorous defense against these unfounded allegations.”
In a span of six months, Faulk was recruited from Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kan., where the NJCAA named him Defensive Player of the Year in 2015, moved to Waco, began attending classes and then was informed in June 2016 that he was being kicked off the team and stripped of his scholarship after Baylor administrators learned he had been accused of a sexual assault that had not yet been investigated.
Baylor officials moved to protect the school’s brand “by painting the picture that the sexual assault problem on the Baylor campus was confined to the athletic department and specifically, the football team,” the suit alleges.
“In furtherance of that strategy, a zero-tolerance policy was put in place by Baylor’s administration with respect to allegations of misconduct by members of the football team. This policy revealed itself to involve no presumption whatsoever of innocence and no due process for the accused if the accused was a football player and especially if the accused was an African-American football player.”
“The concept of fairness was utterly abandoned, especially when the accused was a football player,” the suit says.
Faulk spent the spring 2016 semester at Baylor, but in June 2016 he learned that a female student had talked with police about a sexual encounter she had with him and another man on the night of the school’s annual Diadeloso celebration in April 2016.
“He told coaches that after he had met her at the party, he returned to his apartment to play video games and that she voluntarily drove herself to his apartment for the purpose of having sex. The coaches confirmed to him that the young lady had admitted the sex with him was consensual, but that she claimed that after having sex with Jeremy, she was forced to engage in sex with one of his roommates against her will. Then despite claiming that she had been forced to undertake acts with that roommate against her will, she voluntarily stayed the night with Jeremy’s other roommate against whom she was making no charges,” the suit says.
She didn't want to press charges, and although Faulk said the sex was consensual, Baylor's Title IX Office started to look into the case.
But KWTX learned that before Faulk was interviewed, or even told what the specific allegation was, administrators 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 handled by the coaches.
“(Faulk) was dismissed from the football team for failing to disclose a prior sexual harassment complaint against him at a previous institution,” Baylor said in its statement Friday.
“There also had been another sexual assault claim made against the plaintiff in May 2016 while he was at Baylor. Given these circumstances, appropriate action was taken — the player was removed from the team, his scholarship rescinded, and he was advised of his rights to appeal the rescission of his scholarship,” the school said.
Faulk’s scholarship was reinstated on July 7, 2016 after a hearing by a three-member panel chaired by Lyn Kinyon, then Baylor’s vice president for financial aid, which made him eligible to return to the school, but not to play football.
Kinyon was later fired, and filed a suit in which she alleged that the decision to reinstate Faulk’s scholarship was the reason, a claim Baylor denied.
The suit was settled, but the terms weren’t disclosed.
Faulk's dismissal became a contentious issue for Baylor administrators and coaches, as KWTX investigated the circumstances.
A KWTX investigation revealed Faulk was kicked off the team and stripped of his scholarship just days after Briles was fired in May 2016.
Briles had learned of the accusation against Faulk from two regents who visited his office on May 1, 2016, KWTX learned.
Sources told KWTX at the time 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.
After that KWTX investigation, Baylor issued a statement saying, "The action to remove Jeremy from the football team was taken by the interim director of athletics and acting head football coach."
Days later, interim Coach Jim Grobe contradicted Baylor's statement, telling KWTX the decision was made by administrators, and not by him.
Faulk learned through an email in December 2016 from Baylor's assistant general counsel to his attorney, Richard Tate, that his Title IX case at Baylor had been indefinitely suspended.
"The Title IX Office was in the process of investigating this allegation, pursuant to our policy at the time, when Mr. Faulk withdrew from Baylor. Under the circumstances of this case, it was not possible to continue the investigation, so it has been suspended," Baylor Assistant General Counsel David Alexander said in the Dec. 13, 2016 email obtained by KWTX.
“Baylor effectively placed him in total limbo by suspending the investigation so long as he does not return to Baylor (which Baylor administration knows was and is a practical impossibility) while knowing that he could not transfer to another school and that professional teams were likely to avoid him because of the stigma of a pending investigation at Baylor,” the suit alleges.
Baylor, however, says had Faulk returned to school, the Title IX investigation would have been completed.
“Following an appeal, the plaintiff’s scholarship was later reinstated by Baylor. The plaintiff could have returned to Baylor on a full scholarship, but he never did so. If he had returned to Baylor, the University’s Title IX investigation would have been resumed and completed according to policy and procedure.”
Faulk’s abrupt dismissal surfaced in a meeting between athletic department staffers and Patty Crawford, who was then the school’s Title IX director.
KWTX 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.”
Baylor, in its statement Friday, denied that Ramsower played any role in Faulk’s dismissal.
“Dr. Ramsower was not involved in any way in the decision to dismiss the football player from the team or in the decision to rescind the player’s scholarship,” the school said.