Baylor Can Only Hope to Be on SMU’s Level

Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at McLane Stadium. The Bears defeat Horned Frogs 61-58. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last week yet another disturbing story emerged from Waco, TX. This time it centered around Rami Hammad, the latest in what sadly continues to be a still-growing list of Baylor football players accused of sexual crimes. On Monday, Hammad was arrested on a stalking charge of a female Baylor student, accused of sexually assaulting another Baylor coed and violating a university-issued no-contact order. According to documents reviewed by Outside the Lines, the sexual assault was reported to Baylor’s Title IX office last fall, yet Hammad played in all 13 games last season, and was listed as a starter on the 2016 post-spring depth chart for the upcoming season. Wow.

Hammad is the latest Bear to be charged

To say that I’m disgusted with (as I’m sure millions of others are as well) the way Baylor has continually tried to protect itself and their football program at the expense of doing “what’s right” is an understatement. The so-called Baptist University continues (almost unbelievably) to shelter those who should not be sheltered, Hammad just being the latest.

I’ll include members of last season’s coaching staff on this list as well, where to date only Art Briles has been terminated. There IS NO WAY you’ll ever convince me that Briles was the sole coach aware of the criminal activities taking place. Sure he was the man in charge and got what he deserved (although I might argue he got off easy), but any one else who was part of the cover up, or even just turned a blind eye to the happenings on campus, should have been permanently dismissed months ago as well. To be honest, I personally find it amazing that criminal charges haven’t been filed against a handful of Baylor employees, Briles included, at the very least for obstruction of justice in the attempt to cover up these heinous crimes.

There are always “powers that be,” pulling the strings in situations like this, and those in charge at Baylor continue to suppress what I’m sure is incredibly damaging, but nonetheless vital evidence, hiding behind the veil of a private university and keeping the now infamous Pepper Hamilton report under wraps. Basically forfeiting the rights and safety of their own female students in the name of “the brand.” Was Hammad mentioned in the report yet still allowed to roam the campus? Perhaps, but it looks like we’ll never know for sure.

I can’t imagine the shame I would feel if I was a Baylor grad these days, or even worse a current student. I feel awful for my friends that went to school in Waco and love their university, but must endure the humiliation brought on by those who felt themselves above the law. But big shock – I’m not here to just to throw another shovel of dirt on the Bears. I’m actually here to praise another University and the way they conduct business, and no it’s not my beloved Horned Frogs. It’s the school on the hilltop right here in Dallas.

It’s a fairly common complaint among my SMU friends who live and die with Mustang sports – President R. Gerald Turner won’t allow them to be competitive in football.  The requirements are just “too difficult” to gain entry into SMU, which doesn’t allow for the “type” of athlete that allows them to become a competitive program again. But guess what? Give me the SMU sheepskin and I’ll proudly hang it on my wall any day of the week. Baylor, you can keep your 32 wins over the last three years and your major bowl game appearances. You made a deal with the devil himself by allowing sexual predators to roam your campus for the sake of winning games, and now there’s a stench associated with anything that “bears” your name.

From time to time the enormous money associated with major college sports may make us all forget the real purpose of these institutions of higher education. But it’s no great mystery, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s to teach lessons to young men and women, to prepare them for the rest of their lives, to instill values of right and wrong. Baylor you deserve an F for your leadership and your university, but only because there’s no lower grade to be given. SMU alumni, be proud of your school and your high standards, and realize sports isn’t, and shouldn’t be, what defines you.

The bottom line in all this is I’d send a daughter to SMU with as much confidence as you can send a child to any university, and be proud to say she’s a Pony. There’s not a chance in hell she’d be going to Baylor. It’s too late to make everything right again in Waco, but it’s not too late to start the process of healing with full disclosure and a new mindset.  I just don’t see it happening.

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Tom Fireoved is the Co-Founder of ScoreBoardTX and President of Franchise Sports & Entertainment, a Dallas based athlete marketing and consulting agency. He formerly served as Vice President of the Texas Rangers and Executive Vice President of the Dallas Stars.