A former financial aid officer at Baylor filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against the university on Wednesday, claiming she was fired in retaliation for reinstating a football player's scholarship she states was improperly revoked because of allegations of a sexual assault that had not yet been investigated.
The suit was filed by Lyn Wheeler Kinyon, former assistant vice president for student financial aid. It states that after the appeal committee she chaired voted on July 6 to reinstate the scholarship, her new supervisor met with her two months later to complain about her performance and ended up firing her in November.
The football player in question isn't named in the lawsuit, but the situation Kinyon describes matches the account of former Baylor defensive tackle Jeremy Faulk. Several sources have told Outside the Lines in prior interviews that Baylor administrators revoked Faulk's scholarship after hearing about the sexual assault allegations, even though the school's Title IX office had not yet notified Faulk that he was under investigation, an assertion Faulk also made in earlier interviews with ESPN.
The lawsuit states that the player "had not committed sexual assault, was wrongfully accused of unspecified misconduct, kicked off the football team, denied his scholarship, housing and meal allowance on May 30, 2016."
Faulk, a native of Palatka, Florida, who transferred to Baylor from Garden City Community College in Kansas, has said previously that he had consensual sex with the woman. No criminal charges ever were filed. When reached by Outside the Lines in June, the woman said that Faulk and another player "forced me to do things that I didn't want to do against my own consent." But Kinyon's lawsuit states that the woman had consensual sex with an unidentified player, "commenced consensual sexual relations" with another unidentified player and then "entered a third bedroom in the apartment, where she spent the rest of the night" with a former boyfriend.
Police detained the woman on May 9 as a result of a mental health warrant. During her interview, she told police about the incident with Faulk and the other men. On May 25, the Baylor Police Department opened an investigation into the woman's claims.
When Faulk returned to campus on May 30 for summer school, the lawsuit alleges, he was told he had been removed from the team, did not have housing and should sleep on one of his teammate's couches.
On June 1, Baylor officials asked Faulk to sign a release that would allow them to obtain his student records from Florida Atlantic, where he played in 2013 and 2014. On June 7, Baylor officials notified Faulk that he had been dismissed from the team. The school's Title IX office informed Faulk of a complaint against him on the same day.
Faulk appealed the university's decision to revoke his scholarship, and during the appeal hearing, according to the lawsuit, "Baylor's representatives dropped the allegation that [Faulk] had been involved in sexual activity in violation of Title IX as justification for rescission of the scholarship, although the allegation of sexual misconduct were the sole motivating factor for Baylor's termination of his scholarship."
The lawsuit alleges that Baylor officials attempted to justify the decision "solely on the grounds that [Faulk] had been untruthful on his application for admission to Baylor."
According to the lawsuit, Faulk was placed on academic probation for his classroom performance at Florida Atlantic. Baylor's admissions application for transfer students asks if they have been disciplined for "academic or behavioral misconduct." Faulk told Outside the Lines that while he was enrolled at FAU, he and a friend got into trouble after they burst open the door to a teammate's room and teased him and his girlfriend -- who were both naked in bed -- and threatened to pull off the sheets. Campus police were called, but no criminal charges were filed.
The lawsuit said the appeals committee voted to reinstate Faulk's scholarship, but only after it received assurances from Baylor general counsel Doug Welch that committee members wouldn't face retaliation for the decision. According to the lawsuit, Welch sent an email to Kinyon on July 5, 2016, which read: "While there is not written policy of Baylor not to retaliate against persons who serve on committees, general policies regarding standards of personal conduct and the code of ethics would apply here to protect the individuals who serve in such roles."
The lawsuit states that Baylor's Title IX office continued to investigate the case until Oct. 13, when it informed Faulk that the complaint would be suspended -- as long as he agreed to never seek readmission to Baylor and not return to its campus.
In October, then-Baylor interim coach Jim Grobe disputed a statement made by the university that said Grobe was involved in the decision to remove Faulk from the team; Grobe said he made the call to suspend Faulk pending the results of the investigation but that university administrators decided to remove him.
"The coaches told me they know I didn't do anything," Faulk told Outside the Lines in June. "They told me I have nothing to worry about."
Faulk has declared for the NFL draft.
"Baylor University contends that this claim is without merit, and we will vigorously contest these inaccurate allegations," a university spokesman said. "We look forward to prevailing in court."
This is the fifth Title IX lawsuit, representing 14 women, filed against Baylor since March 30; in addition, the university reached financial settlements with three other women who say they were sexually assaulted by Baylor football players before they filed lawsuits.