Art Briles’ time at Grambling State University only lasted a few days.
The former head football coach linked to a sexual assault scandal at Baylor University has resigned from the offensive coordinator position at Grambling State after intense backlash from the HBCU community, including prominent alumni.
Legendary Grambling State quarterback Doug Williams told the Washington Post that he wouldn’t support his alma mater after news about Briles’ hire surfaced. Williams also said that he believes James “Shack” Harris, another one-time Grambling football star, wasn’t a fan of the hire.
The two HBCU football icons were joined by a host of other people in the HBCU community who criticized Grambling State and head coach Hue Jackson for hiring a white man with a tumultuous past instead of opting for another candidate who has less baggage.
Briles was the head coach for Baylor until he was fired in 2016 after a wide-ranging sexual assault scandal prompted allegations that the university protected its football student-athletes from disciplinary processes and did not report allegations of misconduct by other football student-athletes.
The NCAA proceeded to investigate these claims and found that Baylor “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 the coach “failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case.”
For a few days, Briles became 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 similar 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 and alleged racial discrimination in their hiring practices.
This isn’t the first time a white man has been hired to coach at an HBCU. Yet, traditionally, HBCUs have been a place where young Black coaches can get opportunities. The hiring of Briles sparked a plethora of criticism for Jackson and his program and will now put immense pressure on the former NFL coach to prove he can lead an HBCU program properly.
There can be no debate that the power of the HBCU community and the voices of many HBCU supporters on social media led to this decision from Briles. And while everyone deserves a place for redemption, legitimate questions need to be asked about if HBCUs should be the place for disgraced coaches to resurrect their careers, especially those who aren’t Black.
Jackson will begin his first year at the helm of Grambling State this fall. And after the firestorm he created with this hire, there will be a lot of people watching his every move from here on out.