WACO, Texas (KWTX) When Dr. Linda Livingstone became president of Baylor University, and Matt Rhule was brought in as the new football coach, Baylor was in the middle of some of the university’s' darkest days in the wake of the sexual assault scandal that engulfed the football program.
The resurgence of Baylor’s football program and the successes the school is chalking up in other sports are the product of a championship culture that’s not only about winning, but also preparing students for life after athletics, the school's president says. (Staff photo/file)
"One of the first things that we had to do is say where do we want to be? We've been in a really difficult time but we can look to the future and think about what can we be as an institution, how can we have a real impact," Livingstone said Wednesday.
Rhule, who has coached the Baylor football team back to national prominence, was named Big 12 Coach of the Year Wednesday and his team has at least a slight chance of making the College Football Playoffs.
But most impressive is the number one ranking of Baylor's volleyball team, and the Baylor men's and women's basketball team are also nationally ranked.
Livingstone say's there's a new focus since the scandal.
"It's a championship culture. But it's not just about winning games, it's about preparing young people, student athletes for life well beyond athletics."
Athletic director Mack Rhodes and Rhule were recently given new multi-year contracts.
"When you have wonderful, talented people, you want to keep them here. And so we have worked very hard with our talented folks to develop contracts that we believe will keep them here for the long run," Livingstone said.
Just two seasons ago, Baylor was in the cellar of the Big 12.
"If they make it into the CFP or not, just the possibility in such a short time after such a hard season three years ago when we're one and 11, it's a testament to their hard work to the types of people they are."
“We certainly want to bring those to closure as soon as we can for the sake of the institution for the sake of all the individuals involved in those cases.”
Baylor's football team plays for the Big 12 Championship in Dallas, against Oklahoma at 11 a.m. Saturday.
At the same time, the men's basketball team will be playing against Arizona in Waco.
The top-seeded Baylor volleyball team is hosting the first round of the NCAA tournament in Waco.
"The future is unbelievably bright for Baylor. We are so excited about the strategic plan Illuminate and the progress we are making to be a top Christian research university that is an exciting goal for us,” Livingstone said.