Former Coach Briles Sues University Representatives for Libel, Slander

Art Briles, the former head football coach of Baylor University, brought suit in Llano County (Texas) district court in early December 2016 against four people associated with the university. He charged libel, slander and conspiracy against three members of the university’s Board of Regents and a senior administrator. The four were identified as Board Chairman Ron Murff, Regents J. Cary Gray and David Harper and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Reagan Ramsower.

The lawsuit states, in part, “These defendants have been relentless in their false attacks upon Coach Briles in the media despite his repeated requests that they cease and retract their onslaught of untruths.”

Sexual assault allegations

Briles was fired in May amidst sexual abuse allegations made by several women against Baylor University football players for actions that were said to have taken place over a several-year period. The scandal also resulted in the termination of Ken Starr as Baylor president and the probation and later resignation of former athletic director Ian McCaw.

Two former Baylor football players have been convicted on sexual assault charges related to the allegations.

One centerpiece of the December lawsuit is an October Wall Street Journal article in which the regents stated that, since 2011, a total of 17 women had reported sexual or domestic violence against 19 of the school’s football players. This tally was said to include four gang rapes.

Briles said that these were false statements that had been made by the school’s public relations firm. He also denied the truth of a statement given the Journal that he had personally known of one case of violence by one of his players that was never reported to the police or to the school’s judicial affairs staff or Title IX office.

Among other claims, Briles say that these and similar comments have made him unable to find another head football coaching job. His lawyer, Ernest Cannon, said that the former coach had plenty of opportunities for employment until the latest news surfaced.

In filing the lawsuit, Briles reserved the right to add Baylor University, it’s public relations firm—G.F. Bunting & Company—and other regents to the suit at a later time.