Today, is a beautiful day. Yes, the sun is shining. Yes, the birds are chirping. But it goes much further than that. Today, the dragon has been slayed. Today, Art Briles has been fired. As the public becomes privy to the intricacies of what can only be described as one of the most inconceivably atrocious scandals in modern athletic history, we can take mild comfort in the fact that something has been done. Finally. After years of blatant mishandling of dozens, if not hundreds of sexual assault allegations against his players, Art Briles has been dismissed as the head coach of Baylor University. But “mishandling” is a far cry from an appropriate adjective to describe Briles’s actions throughout his tenure at Baylor. No, make no mistake. Art Briles is a monster.
Head coaches can be replaced. Hell, I’ve been through five in my lifetime with Notre Dame. Five. And that includes the atrocities that were Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham, so, I fucking get it, okay? But we have BK now. Because, once again, head coaches are replaceable. Lives aren’t. And that’s what Baylor took. That’s what Tevin Elliot, Sam Ukwuachu, Shawn Oakman took. That’s what Art Briles took. The lives of the women they brutalized will never be the same. Because rape doesn’t just happen in one night. It happens over and over, every day. Images, flashbacks. Jumping out of your seat when someone taps you on the shoulder. Hearing your own voice screaming for him to stop. Head coaches can be replaced. Lives can’t.
On April 13, 2016, Shawn Oakman, a former standout Baylor defensive end was arrested for rape. Shawn Oakman forcibly removed her clothes and proceeded to brutally sexually assault a young woman, and he was rightfully arrested. But we’re forgetting a major responsible party.
Oakman is one of dozens of athletes accused of sexual assault at Baylor University. You might think Baylor would do something about that. You might think Art Briles would do something about that. Nope. In fact, Tevin Elliot, a fellow defensive end, raped six women before being convicted in 2014. I’m sorry, what? Six. One more time? SIX. He raped six women before Baylor decided to pay a-fucking-ttention. Six women recounted their individual horrors between the years of 2009 and 2012 before he was arrested and brought to trial. In 2014. He’s now serving a twenty-year sentence for multiple counts of felony rape.
Sam Ukwuachu, another defensive end (this is one of the more unfortunate arbitrary patterns), was accused of raping a fellow athlete on the Baylor Women’s Soccer team. Two months before his trial, Art Briles confidently assured fans he would be playing in the upcoming 2015 season. Briles, by the way, was well aware of Ukwuachu’s lengthy record of violence against women from his former coaches at Boise State. Ukwuachu was allowed to graduate from Baylor University—a university who performed such an egregiously insufficient investigation, the judge in the case refused to even allow it to be admitted into evidence for the defense. The girl he raped, however, didn’t get that same privilege. No, she lost her scholarship and was forced to transfer. Oh, and by the way, Sam Ukwuachu was, in fact, convicted of felony rape. His sentence? 180 days in jail. Let that one soak in.
So, back to Shawny O. And are we really surprised? A Baylor transfer with a history of violence against women. A history warranting his dismissal from his former school’s (Penn State) football team. Oh, and did I mention the assault charge in 2013? Or the Waco Police Department Report given to Art Briles and the Baylor administration and then promptly thrown away? Yeah, that, too.
Shawn Oakman is a rapist. Sam Ukwuachu is a rapist. Tevin Elliot is a rapist. Art Briles is a rapist. Yeah, you read that one correctly. This man has received dozens, hundreds of complaints of sexual assault and rape from students throughout his campus. And he didn’t do a damn thing. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a lot of kickass quotes, but this one really hits the proverbial nail on its proverbial head: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Art Briles didn’t force that girl into Oakman’s room. He didn’t rip off her clothes and hold her down screaming. He didn’t force himself on her while she pleaded for him to stop. Shawn Oakman did that. And I hope to God, Allah, Buddha, and whatever other deity out there listening that he spends the rest of his unfathomable excuse for a life in hell. Shawn Oakman raped that girl. But Art Briles? He let him.