Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 20, 2017
One of the reasons I chose to re-brand this site was to get back to commenting on football and college athletics from a positive aspect. There were stories like those of Spencer Webb and Stephan Blaylock which deserved some attention away from 'stars and stats.' That really was my core mission, so to speak, of calling this site All The Right Moves.

For the most part, my articles about recruits have been exactly what I want them to be here. On the other hand, though, I am a writer, a member of society and a human with my own level of character and integrity. With those traits, I find myself compelled to address many things affecting society through sport.

At Duck Sports Authority, I have written a couple of Flock Talk articles dealing with the incredible strength of Brenda Tracy and her fight against sexual violence on campuses all across the nation. She showed tremendous fortitude meeting one-on-one with Mike Riley. She has used that strength to become a leading voice across the nation calling for change.

It seems that one institution is going into the pits of hell unaccepting of their complicity and fault in the destruction of a safe campus.

This is a difficult piece for me to broach in one regard because I have personal friends who have gone to Baylor University and are fiercely proud of the school. Theirs is not a similar experience to the many women who have reported multiple instances of sexual violence on campus - especially that of the football team whose former coach was more than complicit in the cover-up of many instances of sexual assault by his players.

Yet every month it seems even more of the heinous nature of those crimes (yes, crimes) come to light making the previous revelations seem insignificant.

Except they are not insignificant.

We have almost become desensitized to the despicable culture surrounding the Baylor campus. Many are now calling on the NCAA to issue the death penalty; but I don't know that this will solve the problem at Baylor. Too many people have already cast aspersions toward the women reporting the crimes, those 'outside' the program who just want to take it down and anyone who dares to write negatively about the university. They want to segment and compartmentalize each instance so that it can be explained away in a manner that seems as if this is a set of multiple circumstantial coincidences and not a pattern of behavior. Except it is.

This is where the actual mission statement of Baylor University comes into play. Taken directly from the Baylor University website this is what the institution sells the world as its primary mission:

The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.

With each new allegation, it is becoming more clear that the university is simply not fulfilling their mission. Later in their 'About' page, the university goes on to proclaim that "Baylor is founded on the belief that God's nature is made known through both revealed and discovered truth."

This is bigger than football; it is bigger than sports. This is a cultural and societal problem. Brenda Tracy has shown a greater ability to achieve good in society than an entire university. They have failed where she has succeeded. And that is a damn shame because they could lead this nation into a different era and have steadfastly refused to budge. Baylor university should be ashamed that one woman has shown more courage than an entire university.

Why stonewall? Why refuse to accept culpability? The same thing that has taken down too many people. The love of money. Yes, it really is the root of all evil. So too does the fear of losing lawsuits motivate the denial of what has happened. 

While the university tries desperately to protect their 'brand' and their money, they continue to fail at their own stated mission. So what do they win if they win the lawsuits but fail at their overall mission? Who have they really helped? The answer, of course, is nothing and no one.

It is time Baylor University's regents set aside the pride of football and return to their core mission statement which concludes:

Aware of its responsibility as the largest Baptist educational institution in the world and as a member of the international community of higher learning, Baylor promotes exemplary teaching, encourages innovative and original research, and supports professional excellence in various specialized disciplines. Advancing the frontiers of knowledge while cultivating a Christian world-view, Baylor holds fast to its original commitment — to build a university that is Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana.

Teach the world that there is something more important than sports; be exemplary leaders at the forefront of changing a society which diminishes women who have been sexually assaulted. Encourage innovation with the manner in which the right thing is done. Take this decision away from the NCAA.

Matt Rhule is a good coach and a better man. He deserves better than to have his livelihood stripped for that which occurred prior to his arrival - but I think it is a necessary step for Baylor to clean up the mess which has happened under their watch. If the NCAA imposes the so-called 'death penalty' nothing will change. Regents will privately fume over the decision and the cultural issues will simply be hidden away while the school works their way back to competition.

Do the right thing Baylor. Accept your responsibility. Create the strictest anti-sexual violence program in the nation; voluntarily give up all post-season appearances for the next five (5) years; voluntarily give up all conference bowl revenues by donating to sexual violence awareness programs. 

Why do I not support the death penalty for the football program? Because too many other sports depend on football revenue to stay afloat. Many young ladies would lose athletic scholarship opportunities were Baylor football to be banished. Instead, I think that the university should also become a leader in the research of how to end sexual violence on college campuses.

It is time for Baylor University to become aware of their responsibility. If they don't we all lose.