One of the most recognizable historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is under fire after hiring a football coach linked to a major college sexual assault scandal.
Criticism abounded on social media over the reported choice for Grambling State University to hire Art Briles, infamous for Baylor University firing him in 2016 after allegations that football student-athletes were protected from the school’s disciplinary processes. On Thursday, Grambling reportedly confirmed Briles’ hiring as the HBCU football program’s offensive coordinator.
The NCAA proceeded to investigate those claims and found that the school “failed to report allegations of and address sexual and interpersonal violence committed on its campus.” Many of these acts were committed by players in Briles’ program.
The NCAA panel stated that when Briles received information about “potential criminal conduct” by one of his players, he “did not report the information” or “personally look any further into the matter.” The panel went further to describe Briles’ reaction to the news of alleged assaults as “deeply troubling” and said Briles “failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case.”
Now, Briles will be taking his talents and his baggage to Grambling State to be the offensive coordinator under newly hired head coach Hue Jackson. Jackson, who has NFL head coaching experience, hasn’t even begun his first year at Grambling but is already raising eyebrows with this hire.
Jackson brings on Briles at a time when many more people are speaking out against the negligence and apathy of decision-makers and leaders when it comes to sexual misconduct, especially on college campuses.
Also, with Briles’ being a white man, he becomes a vital piece of one of the most historic HBCU football programs in the nation when many Black coaches around the NFL and college football are struggling to get opportunities.
Most recently, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores brought this conversation back to the forefront when he filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and a few of its teams alleging racial discrimination in their hiring practices.
Grambling isn’t the first HBCU to hire a white man to coach its football team. However, traditionally, HBCUs have been a place where young Black coaches can get an opportunity to learn, grow and win.
Briles’ hiring begs the questions: Would this major Black college opportunity be better served in the hands of a hungry Black offensive mind? Or would it even be better to give the job to an older Black coach with connections and wisdom who can help get players to the next level?
Many will speculate and say that this job for Briles will just be a way to springboard himself back to a better coaching opportunity. Yet, for many other Black football minds, this could be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Jackson already had a ton of eyeballs on his program heading into the 2022 season. Now, with the hiring of Briles, the HBCU world will be skeptically waiting to see what this pairing will do.
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