Grambling State hires ex-Baylor football coach Art Briles as offensive coordinator

Art Briles, who was fired as Baylor's head football coach in 2016 following the university's investigation into campus-wide allegations of sexual assault, has been hired as Grambling State's offensive coordinator, athletic director Trayvean Scott confirmed to ESPN on Thursday.

Former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson was hired as Grambling State's head coach in December.

Briles, 66, has been out of college coaching since May 2016, when Baylor officials suspended him with intent to terminate for his role after sexual assault allegations were made against students, including football players. He later reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Baylor, where he coached from 2008 to 2015, posting a 65-37 record and winning a share of back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2013 and 2014.

Speaking to KTAL-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Thursday, Briles was asked what he plans to do differently at Grambling State.

"I'll do exactly what I'm required to do and what they expect of me, which is to be a very solid citizen, to be a positive leader on a day in and day out basis, to do everything I can do to protect our students and our student-athletes on campus and to represent the Grambling University to the best of my ability because I'm very humble and grateful to be at this university," he said.

Scott told ESPN in a phone interview Thursday that he spent about 10 days researching Briles before formally supporting Jackson's decision to hire him. He said Jackson has autonomy to bring forward coaching candidates, and Scott vetted Briles after Jackson suggested him.

"I'm rooted in fact," Scott told ESPN's Pete Thamel. "I know a lot of things are said and done. We felt it [was appropriate] to give him a chance to really redeem himself after understanding where the facts lie."

Scott said Briles had "a couple other opportunities" to coach "right now" and stressed that the school "did the homework" on his past. He said he'd spoken to Briles multiple times and through his research was "able to move forward in support of Coach Jackson's recommendation."

"I think the guy just wants to coach and lead men," Scott told ESPN when asked specifically about what made him comfortable about hiring Briles when many other schools and organizations weren't. "We're not talking about a perfect situation or devaluing things done in the past and how it has affected people. He's sympathetic and empathetic about what went on."

Legendary Grambling State alumnus Doug Williams told ESPN's John Keim that he is "not a fan" of Briles' hiring.

"It certainly put me in a tough situation being a supporter of Grambling football," Williams told Keim. "I don't know Art Briles, but it doesn't sit well with me."

Williams said he had spoken to Scott and school president Rick Gallot in the past couple of weeks.

"I'm having a problem with it because other schools would not bite on it, then he's coming to a Black school like we'll take him in," Williams told Keim. "I have a problem with it, a major problem with it. I can't support it that's for sure. That hurt me to my core right there. ... I know [late] coach [Eddie] Robinson is turning over right now."

Briles was asked by KTAL-TV about those criticizing the hire.

"It's hard to control what other people think," he said. "I would just hope people would search through everything with an open mind and a kind heart."

In August, the NCAA placed Baylor on four years' probation but ruled that Briles and the university didn't violate its rules by their inaction. The Committee on Infractions said it could not conclude that Baylor or Briles violated NCAA rules by failing to report allegations of sexual and interpersonal violence committed on the campus.

The committee noted that while a former Baylor president described the school's handling of sexual violence as a "colossal operational failure," current NCAA rules do not allow the Committee on Infractions to punish schools for how they handled such issues.

"You report what you know. We did the best we felt at the time," Briles told KTAL-TV. "Apparently, it wasn't good enough -- it wasn't good enough.

"I'm sorry for anybody that suffered any consequences because of it.''

In 2018, Briles coached an American football team in Italy. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League had hired him in August 2017, but the team reneged on the offer the same day after receiving backlash for the decision.

In February 2019, then-Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson attempted to hire Briles as his team's offensive coordinator, but Hopson was overruled by university president Rodney Bennett.

"I believe he is a man who deserves a second chance," Hopson wrote in a statement disagreeing with the school's decision. "He is a man that seemed sincere [and] humble in his interview [and] personally he committed no crime. He may not have acted in the proper protocol, but that should be my job at Southern Miss! He was interviewing for an assistant position, even though I believe he will be a head coach at a major program in the near future."

Hopson resigned as Southern Miss coach after just one game in September 2020.

Briles coached at Mount Vernon High School in Texas in 2019 and 2020.

Baylor's investigation into its handling of sexual violence complaints, amid publicity of several sexual assault and domestic violence allegations involving football players, culminated in May 2016 with the firing of Briles, the demotion of president Ken Starr and the suspension of athletic director Ian McCaw. Starr and McCaw left Baylor soon after.

Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton -- which was hired by Baylor's board of regents to investigate whether the school properly handled allegations of sexual assault by students -- including football players -- was critical of the culture within the football program and Briles' discipline of players. Pepper Hamilton's findings described Baylor's football players as being "above the rules" with "no culture of accountability for misconduct."

According to Pepper Hamilton, its findings "reflect significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor's football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of athlete misconduct." It also faulted the football team for not adequately vetting transfer students, including former Boise State defensive end Sam Ukwuachu and Penn State defensive end Shawn Oakman, who were accused of sexual assault at Baylor.

Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a former Baylor women's soccer player in October 2013. He transferred to Baylor after being dismissed by then-Boise State coach Chris Petersen in 2013. Boise State never gave details as to why Ukwuachu was kicked off the team.

Oakman, who transferred to Baylor after he was kicked off the team at Penn State, was accused of sexually assaulting a graduate student in April 2016. A jury acquitted Oakman in February 2019.

In January 2014, former Baylor player Tevin Elliott was convicted of raping a student at an off-campus party in 2012. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Elliott also was accused of physically assaulting or sexually assaulting four other women while he was enrolled at the school.

In an interview with ESPN in September 2016, Briles said he accepted responsibility for the Baylor football program's poor handling of sexual assault allegations involving players.

"There were some bad things that happened under my watch," Briles said. "And for that, I'm sorry. ... I was wrong. I'm sorry. I'm going to learn. I'm going to get better."

Briles said he understood why victims of players on his team would be upset with him.

"I'd tell them I'm extremely sorry. It just appalls me that somebody could victimize another human being," he said. "And there's no place in society for it. And I've never condoned it and never will and never put up with it.

"These players are part of our program and representatives of our program. And when they do wrong, then it reflects on me and the university. So I do feel responsibility."

ESPN's Andrea Adelson and Paula Lavigne contributed to this report.