Paula LavigneESPN Staff WriterClose
- Data analyst and reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise and Investigative Unit.
- Winner, 2014 Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award; finalist, 2012 IRE broadcast award; winner, 2011 Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism; Emmy nominated, 2009.
Former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw alleged a conspiracy at the “highest level” at Baylor wherein regents planned to focus the school’s entire sexual assault scandal on athletics, ignoring the wider, decades-long problem at the university of mishandling rape reports, according to court documents filed Wednesday in an ongoing Title IX lawsuit against the school.
McCaw said in his deposition that top leaders, consultants, attorneys and the school’s public relations firm worked to put all the blame on athletics — specifically football — while working to cover up failures across campus, including those of the regents themselves, according to quotes from McCaw in the motion filed Wednesday.
The entire deposition was not released. McCaw did not respond to a voice mail message left with him Wednesday.
McCaw is quoted in the motion as saying Baylor’s actions were, “an elaborate plan that essentially scapegoated the black football players and the football program for being responsible for what was a decades-long, university-wide sexual assault scandal and go directly to the pattern of conduct that created a heightened risk to plaintiffs and other Baylor female students.”
In May 2016, the school released a summary report of Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton’s review of Baylor’s handling of sexual assault and domestic violence cases, which included a section on failures within the football program to properly respond to such reports. In the wake of that report, the school fired football coach Art Briles and demoted former president Kenneth Starr, who would later resign. McCaw, who had been suspended as a result of the investigation, resigned from his position as athletic director in May 2016 but stayed on in a non-administrative role at Baylor until November 2016, when he left to become athletic director at Liberty University.
“Although urged to remain, McCaw refused to continue on as Baylor Athletic Director because he, ‘was disgusted at that point with the regents, the racism, the phony finding of fact’ and because he ‘did not want to be part of some Enron cover-up scheme,'” the motion states.
The motion states that the motive behind pinning the blame solely on football and covering the broader failures was, according to McCaw, because, “It’s bad for business. … It’s bad for Baylor’s brand, bad for admission, bad for tuition revenue.”
Baylor University released a statement Wednesday in response to the motion containing McCaw’s quotes. The statement read in part: “The plaintiffs’ counsel have grossly mischaracterized facts to promote a misleading narrative in an effort to deflect attention away from the actual facts of the case pending before the court … We will maintain our diligent efforts to keep discovery focused on this specific case while steadfastly protecting the privacy of our students and their records that are uninvolved in this matter.”
The statement concluded with, “Much of the testimony of Mr. McCaw that is selectively quoted in the motion is based on speculation, hearsay and even media reports.”
The motion states that prior to the university releasing its summary report in May 2016, a Pepper Hamilton attorney told McCaw that their final work product would be up to the regents, who “may want a detailed document. They may want a summary report, or they may ask us [Pepper Hamilton] to whitewash the whole thing.”
The motion states that McCaw said select regents had a meeting with Pepper Hamilton attorneys — at which McCaw wasn’t present — which resulted in “Regent Cary Gray writing ‘false’ and ‘misleading finding of fact skewed to make the football program look bad to cover up the campus-wide failings.'” The motion also stated that there were “racially charged labels like ‘300 pound black football player’ being freely thrown around to the exclusion of other instances of university-wide misconduct,” although it doesn’t attribute those comments to any particular person.
McCaw stated that also “contradicting the false narrative that football was the entire problem,” former Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford told him that “she had had upwards of approximately 300 cases since she’d arrived at Baylor, and she had not detected any pattern relative to student athletes within that number.”
Although Crawford has accused Baylor in prior media interviews of trying to say the university solved the whole problem by making changes within the football program, she has said there were specific issues within athletics, noting that football player cases comprised about 10 percent of her work and tended to be more violent, often involving gang rape. As a comparison, male student-athletes made up about 4 percent of the undergraduate male population at Baylor.
Wednesday’s motion alleged other aspects of Baylor’s leadership that failed women, but were not treated the same, namely the Baylor Police Department under former Chief Jim Doak, who was widely criticized in a 2014 review by an outside consultant that found the police department failing in several aspects of student safety. “McCaw said that one recording even reveals a police dispatcher putting a young woman reporting her rape on hold to order himself a meal,” the motion states.
The motion quotes McCaw as saying that at a prior board of regents meeting regarding the consultant’s review, Baylor senior vice president Reagan Ramsower told McCaw, “If [Baylor Police] Chief Doak was still here, we wouldn’t fire him. We’d have to execute him.” The motion states, “Instead, Doak was given a celebratory retirement party and public praise.”
The motion stated that McCaw testified that “Doak and others discouraged reporting and systematically buried rape reports, concealed them from McCaw when they involved sports, causing McCaw to learn of them only through ESPN.”
According to the motion, McCaw said that Glenn Bunting, the head of Baylor’s public relations firm at the time, encouraged McCaw to lie about “when a sports-related rape had been reported to and made known to Baylor officials,” although the motion doesn’t include what McCaw was instructed to say. It was “a scheme Bunting promised would be ‘mutually beneficial’ to Baylor and McCaw,” the motion states, adding that McCaw told Bunting, “that’s not true,” and that Bunting hung up on him when he wouldn’t agree to go along.
In an interview Wednesday with Outside the Lines, Bunting disputed that statement, saying, “Mr. McCaw’s claims are absurd and a compete fabrication. Our consistent advice and counsel to the university was to be transparent and to disclose facts and details of the investigation. We embarked on an aggressive strategy to work through the media to proactively tell the truth about the Pepper Hamilton findings.”
In a prior court case — a defamation case involving former football director of operations Colin Shillinglaw in February 2017 — McCaw was called out for what regents in that case described as his own efforts to keep information on student-athletes involved in crimes under wraps.
Court documents in that case quote text messages between Briles and McCaw regarding a player who was arrested for assault and threatening to kill a non-athlete, in which Briles texts McCaw, “Just talked to [the player] — he said Waco PD was there — said they were going to keep it quiet — Wasn’t a set up deal … I’ll get shill [Shillinglaw] to ck on Sibley.” (Sibley was in reference to Waco attorney Jonathan Sibley.)
It states McCaw responded, “That would be great if they kept it quiet.”
Although that text message wasn’t referenced in Wednesday’s motion, the court filing stated that, “despite all of his damaging testimony to Baylor, McCaw did not attempt to hide his own responsibility and readily admitted that the athletic department was not blameless.”
McCaw’s actions while at Baylor came up several times in the wake of his departure, with Crawford accusing him of asking for “immunity” for a student-athlete whom she wanted to interview as part of a Title IX investigation in February 2015. And when she asked if McCaw had been aware of any gang rapes, he did not reveal that he’d been made aware of an allegation involving football players and a volleyball player two years earlier. McCaw had not reported the incident with the volleyball player to judicial affairs, and has said through a statement issued by his attorney they he had not been told what proper reporting protocol was at the time. That volleyball player filed a lawsuit against the university last year.
The motion filed Wednesday was part of a Title IX lawsuit filed in June 2016 on behalf of 10 women, including one who reported being raped by a football player. Attorneys for the women have gone back and forth with Baylor attorneys over the past several months about providing records, accusing the university of failing to be transparent. It is one of six ongoing Title IX lawsuits against the school.
Criminal charges are pending against three former Baylor football players accused of sexual assault, and earlier this month the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reinstated the sexual assault conviction of former Baylor football player Samuel Ukwuachu by overturning a lower court’s ruling to grant him a new trial based on evidence not admitted during his initial trial.