By Lewis Gould
The awful truth is that the Baylor sexual scandal that this week resulted in the firing of the school’s coach, athletic director and demotion of its president is eerily reminiscent of the Penn State scandal five years ago.
In 2011, the most awful scandal in the history of college athletics was exposed when it was revealed that Jerry Sandusky, a longtime coach at Penn State, had groomed and sexually abused teenage boys in the locker room of the school’s football stadium over a period decades, and that further the abuse had been covered up by university officials who deemed the sanctity of their football program to be paramount to any form of tangible justice for the victims.
The scandal continues to produce routine horrors, such as the fact that head coach Joe Paterno—the man who won the most games in the history of college football—may have known about Sandusky’s abuses as early as 1976. After punishing the university, its football program, and Paterno itself, the NCAA rolled back several of its sanctions in January 2015, a year ahead of schedule. It was a tacit argument that Penn State—and by proxy, the NCAA at large—had cleansed itself of its sins.
But revelations regarding the football team at Baylor make it abundantly clear that institutionally, nothing has changed within college football. A few weeks ago ESPN’s Outside the Lines published a report stating that Baylor as a football program and university has conspired with local police in Waco, Tex. to shield its players from investigations and punishment stemming from allegations of sexual and physical assaults against women. OTL reported on three new incidents, which when combined with previously known stories painted a picture of a university—led by president and onetime Clinton antagonist Ken Starr, and head coach Art Briles—that systematically protected star athletes at the expense of women who said they were victims of v