On May 26, the Baylor Board of Regents suspended coach Art Briles with the intent to fire him.
Three weeks later, we're closer to May 25 than June 15.
The Baylor Board of Regents has yet to make his termination official. And while Briles hangs in limbo, several high-profile donors have publicly floated the idea that Briles could be brought back after a one-year suspension.
This is not exactly the culture change that Baylor needed -- or that the Pepper Hamilton summary called for. Sure, Ken Starr is out as chancellor and school president, as is athletic director Ian McCaw.
But almost everything else related to the football program hasn't changed. The school retained Briles' staff and has not approved eight players requesting NLI releases. And now we're seeing quotes like this from Bob Simpson, co-owner of the Texas Rangers and big-money Baylor donor with his name on a major athletics building on campus, about Briles' possible return: "We don't know yet. We'd like to see that."
Significantly, we have not heard a categorical denial from anyone in power at Baylor. How could bringing back Art Briles even be a consideration? And for that matter, why is the bulk of his staff -- including two family members -- still working at Baylor?
A note to Simpson and other regents: Please reread the summary of findings that Pepper Hamilton presented to the board. It's still unclear whether any kind of specific document exists or will be made public. That lack of transparency is yet another concerning part of this story.
But what we do know is worth a few rereads for Simpson & Co. because the report unleashed a scathing review of the way Briles and the university completely mishandled sexual assault allegations against football players.
Regents chairman Richard Willis had previously used the words "horrified," "shocked" and outraged" to describe the reaction to the findings. The report cited the football program for "failing to take appropriate action when sexual assaults were brought to their attention," for creating a "cultural perception that football was above the rules," for making choices that "posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University."
Women were allegedly assaulted repeatedly during Briles' tenure and the claims were ignored for years. The answer here is not a one-year suspension. The answer is to start over completely. To allow Briles to return as football coach would be to pretend nothing ever happened and dismiss the victims as just another speed bump on the way to football glory.
So why have the regents remained mostly motionless? This is a time for action.
The regents did take an unprecedented step when they decided to suspend Briles, demote Starr and put McCaw on probation. Starr and McCaw eventually stepped down, but the specter of Briles continues to hang over the university like a giant toxic cloud.
Because the regents -- who make all the decisions for Baylor -- have done almost nothing since then, it has left what feels like a complete vacuum in leadership at the ultimate moment of crisis. Though two football staff members were fired, the assistant coaches remain. That includes Briles' son, Kendal, who is offensive coordinator. That includes son-in-law Jeff Lebby, accused of knowing about an alleged assault by running back Devin Chafin.
How the regents avoided cleaning house after reading the Pepper Hamilton report is head-scratching on the surface. The report says "some football coaches and staff took improper steps" when sexual assaults were brought to their attention.
Further, "Football staff conducted their own untrained internal inquiries, outside of policy, which improperly discredited complainants and denied them the right to a fair, impartial and informed investigation, interim measures or processes promised under University policy."
Firing Briles sends a message, but so does keeping his assistants on staff. On the one hand, the regents can say they are outraged. But on the other, they still want to win football games, an addiction that will be hard to break considering how many games Baylor won under Briles.
Getting rid of Starr and McCaw doesn't change the culture -- the culture is football, and the Baylor football culture is Briles.
That brings us to interim coach Jim Grobe, hired to steady the waters. During his only news conference at Baylor, Grobe said there is a "zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior." That's exactly the right mentality for Baylor right now.
But he has been put in a nearly impossible situation. He has signees who have demanded to be released from their National Letters of Intent, and he has now been accused of telling the coach of a dismissed player that if he left quietly, an investigation into an alleged sexual assault against him would stop. (Grobe denies that account.) He does not have any of his own assistants. Instead, his staff has loyalties to Briles.
And now the regents are openly speculating about the return of Briles. There simply cannot be a second chance given to Briles, no matter how many donors speak out or threaten to pull their money.
The regents made important first steps when they decided to suspend Briles. But a complete termination and clean slate is required for Baylor to truly show it is serious about moving forward and displaying a real culture change.