Baylor hit with $2M fine from Big 12 for sexual assault scandal
- The Big 12 athletic conference announced Tuesday that it will fine Baylor University $2 million for "reputational damage to the conference and its members" resulting from a high-profile sexual assault scandal that involved the Texas university's football team, ESPN reported. The institution is now in full compliance with the league, according to the Dallas Morning News.
- Baylor is said to have implemented more than 100 recommendations from law firm Pepper Hamilton that would allow the university to receive its full revenue distribution of around $14.3 million from the conference, though the Big 12 board will continue to withhold the funds for 48 more months, the Morning News reported. The $2 million assessment and $1.65 million in legal fees would come out of those funds.
- The law firm found in 2016 that Baylor did not sufficiently investigate sexual assault allegations against football team members. The resulting report led to the firing of the university's football coach, and the eventual resignations of its president and athletic director.
Colleges and universities are having to answer publicly for how their administrations handle reports of sexual misconduct and other controversies on campus.
Several presidents, including at Michigan State University and the University of Southern California, have stepped down in the last year as a result of such scandals. Both universities have paid hundreds of millions in settlements each.
On Tuesday, Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland, announced he will retire in June 2019. The announcement came shortly after the release of a 198-page report from a third-party investigation into turmoil in the university’s athletic department in light of the death of a student-athlete earlier this year. And University of North Carolina System President Margaret Spellings announced last week that she would step down in March, three years in to a five-year contract marked with several controversies affecting the campus community.
Baylor isn't the only university recently to be assessed a steep fine for its handling of sexual misconduct allegations. The Department of Education fined the University of Montana nearly $1 million under the Clery Act for its admitted failure to report sexual offenses and other crimes. Montana's is the second-highest penalty under the act, following a $2.4 million fine for Penn State University in response to the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case.
The typical fine for a Clery Act violation is $56,000, and universities often settle for much less. Inside Higher Ed found that appeals and settlements resulted in fines being lowered by more than 25%.
However, one campus security expert told the Chronicle of Higher Education that he expects recent changes to the policy will yield "faster" actions and "larger" fines.
Follow Hallie Busta on Twitter