The culture surrounding Baylor University and its football program not only affected how coaches and administrators handled allegations of sexual assault against players but also kept the university from randomly drug testing its student-athletes for marijuana and other recreational drugs, according to an upcoming book about the university's sexual assault scandal.
The drug policy makes it one of the few major collegiate programs not to randomly drug-test its student-athletes, according to the book.
Baylor regents had no idea that the university wasn't randomly drug testing its student-athletes until Pepper Hamilton, a Philadelphia law firm the school hired to examine how it handled allegations of sexual assault by students, including football players, turned up the issue. Already reeling from bad publicity around the mishandling of sexual assault cases, the lack of drug testing was another indicator of just how insular the football program had been under former coach Art Briles, who was fired in May 2016.
"That was my first realization that this was likely to not end up well," Baylor regent J. Cary Gray said in "Violated," which was written by ESPN reporters Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach and will be released by Center Street Books on Aug. 22.
According to the book, Gray and regent David Harper were at an Association of Governing Boards national conference in Washington, D.C., in mid-April 2016, when Harper told Gray about the drug policy issue and the administrative tug-of-war around it.
Harper, who was Pepper Hamilton's main contact and knew more about the investigation than almost anyone else on the board, already feared where the investigation was headed. Harper said he was made aware of incidents of violence toward women, including the 2013 domestic violence allegation against former star defensive end Shawn Oakman, which had been reported within athletics but not to anyone outside the department.
According to Baylor regents and other administrators, its athletics department avoided random drug testing because of the university's overall strict policy against marijuana use, in which one reported incident might lead to suspension for a semester and a second incident could result in expulsion. Since the university's strict conduct code might derail a student-athlete's career, athletic department officials didn't think it was fair to subject them to random testing.
"What was really happening was the underlying message to them is, 'Hey, the rules don't apply to you,'" one regent said in the book. "You know, and they have been hearing that since the seventh grade anyway. Some rules do apply to everybody, and telling them they don't apply is not calculated to make them productive citizens."
According to the book: "Another regent said there was a concern that the no-testing policy drew recruits to Baylor who wanted to smoke marijuana, and contributed to the football program's problems of 'getting bad guys.' It also kept players who had addiction problems from getting help, with one regent referencing the 2010 arrest and subsequent suspension of Baylor football players Josh Gordon and Willie Jefferson, who were found asleep in a local Taco Bell drive-thru lane and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. Multiple failed drug tests would derail Gordon's NFL career. 'We didn't do anything to help him apparently,' the regent said."
The NCAA doesn't require its member institutions to drug-test its student-athletes. But if a school has a written drug policy, it is required to follow it under NCAA rules. The NCAA tests for street drugs and performance-enhancing substances at its championship events and does random testing at least once a year at its member institutions. A 2011 study by The Associated Press found that 99 percent of the 56 FBS programs it surveyed tested its football players for marijuana and cocaine.
After Pepper Hamilton released its findings of fact and recommendations on May 26, 2016, Briles was suspended with intent to terminate, university president Kenneth Starr was demoted and athletic director Ian McCaw was suspended. Starr and McCaw later resigned altogether.
Weeks before then, Baylor funded two airplanes full of administrators and regents to fly to South Bend, Indiana, to meet with officials at Notre Dame who had come up with a solution for drug testing there.
In 2016, Baylor adopted the same drug policy that Notre Dame uses. It calls for a six-month probationary period for the first positive test for marijuana; one year of probation and ban for 33 percent of competition for a second; one-year ban and probation for a third; and dismissal from the team for a fourth. There are more severe penalties for using street drugs other than marijuana, including a one-year ban for a second positive test and dismissal from the team after a third.
New Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said he was surprised to learn about the drug testing problems when he was hired to replace McCaw in July 2016. He told ESPN earlier this summer that the Bears had already suspended a football player for testing positive.
"Candidly, it really surprised me," Rhoades told ESPN. "It was the first program that I'd been a part of that didn't have a robust policy."
Among other findings in "Violated":
• A former Baylor student, quoted under the pseudonym "Jennifer" in the book, describes in detail being gang raped by football players twice in 2012. She described one of the alleged assaults that took place in a bathroom:
"I kept asking, 'I want to leave. I want to leave,' and I was crying. I tried to get up, and they threw me back to the ground. I was all bruised up because of that."
The woman didn't report either incident to the police or school at the time. But she detailed how the alleged gang rapes took a toll on her as she endured what she described as a hostile environment on campus. She said her grades plummeted and she had to take time off from school and temporarily transfer to another college, where she developed a skin-picking disorder that is common among people who experience trauma. In November 2016, she and a friend, who was also identified as a victim in one of the alleged 2012 gang rapes, came to an undisclosed financial settlement with Baylor.
• For the first time, Briles (through his attorney) and former head volleyball coach Jim Barnes addressed what happened when a former Baylor volleyball player alleged that she was gang raped in 2012 by several football players. The allegation became significant in November 2016, when Baylor issued a statement saying that no one -- including Briles and McCaw -- reported the incident to judicial affairs when they learned about it.
In July 2012, the woman's mother reported the incident to an associate athletic director in charge of strength and conditioning, according to later legal filings and interviews. Briles' attorney said that around that time, the strength coach told Briles that he had "met with the mother of a volleyball player who was concerned about her daughter 'partying' with football players. Briles asked whether there was anything else 'we needed to do,'" and the strength coach said no.
The attorney said that the first Briles heard it was a gang rape allegation was when Barnes told him in April 2013, after Barnes said he heard it for the first time from his player. Barnes said he did call judicial affairs and said to the woman who answered the phone, "If there's someone who needs to report something, how do they go about doing it?" he said. Barnes said he was told the victim needed to come by that office or call.
"I said, 'Well, that's what I'm attempting to do,'" Barnes added, saying that the volleyball player and her parents refused to make a report or take any further action -- a statement the former student-athlete contradicted in a lawsuit she filed against Baylor earlier this year.
• A Waco police officer failed to secure evidence from former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu's apartment, after a female soccer player accused him of raping her there, because the officer didn't know how to spell his name and couldn't locate his address.
According to the book, Waco police sergeant Stephanie Gibson never interviewed Ukwuachu on the morning of Oct. 20, 2013, and police also failed to secure the sheets and blankets from his bed and take photographs of his apartment because she couldn't locate his apartment.
"For whatever reason, Gibson never called police dispatch to try to obtain Sam's address or telephone number," according to the book. "Gibson would later say she didn't try because she only had a phonetic spelling of his last name."
Ukwuachu, who transferred to Baylor from Boise State and never played in a game for the Bears, was convicted in August 2015 of sexually assaulting the woman. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, 10 years of felony probation and 400 hours of community service. A Texas appeals court overturned his conviction in March, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is deciding whether he should be given a new trial. The woman reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the school in December 2015.
In another incident, in November 2011, there is no indication that Waco police ever followed up with a woman who accused former Bears football player Tevin Elliott of vandalizing her car in retaliation for his being disciplined for improperly touching her. The woman, identified by the pseudonym "Phoebe" in the book, called Waco police after someone slashed two of the tires on her 1998 Nissan Maxima, left key marks all over the hood and spray painted the word "bitch" in gold paint on the fender.
A Waco police officer asked her, "Do you have any idea who would want to do that?" She responded, "I do absolutely have an idea." Just days earlier, Elliott had received a misdemeanor assault citation for an incident months earlier in which Phoebe told police he improperly touched and restrained her in her apartment.
The woman said in the book that police officers didn't dust her car for prints, didn't take photographs and never followed up with her after she made an initial report. Her mother even notified a Baylor Police Department officer about the damage to the car, but she received only an acknowledgement of her complaint.
In January 2014, Elliott was convicted of raping Jasmin Hernandez on April 15, 2012. He was also accused of sexually assaulting three other women while playing at Baylor. He is serving a 20-year sentence in Texas and is eligible for parole in 2024.
McLennan County assistant district attorney Hilary LaBorde, who was critical of the way Waco police investigated Elliott, questioned whether its officers were properly trained to handle cases involving sexual assault. She also questioned whether there was enough cooperation between Waco police and Baylor police during their investigations.
"Would it occur to probably a small child that they should call Baylor PD and tell them, 'Hey, this guy now has two different events? Yes," LaBorde said in the book. "Honestly, do I think it occurred to Waco PD? No, I don't."