If College Football betting fans don’t know what’s going on at Baylor right now, talented defensive lineman Sam Ukwuachu has been convicted of sexual assault, sent to jail and removed from the team. Ukwuachu had transferred to Baylor from Boise State after the 2012 season after Boise coach Chris Pedersen had kicked him off the team.
Boise would not waive the transfer season, so Ukwuachu had not played during 2013 while in Waco. However, he also didn’t play in 2014, suspended for reasons that the team did not clarify. Then, Ukwuachu was indicted for sexual assault, and his recent trial ended in a conviction. Baylor coach Art Briles contends that he knew nothing about why Ukwuachu had been kicked off the Boise State squad. It turns out that he had beaten up his girlfriend up there too. When asked, Pedersen emphatically stated that he had told Briles about everything related to Ukwuachu’s dismissal.
This week, Briles finally commented on the situation again after 10 days of media silence. He came out and said that the team has not been distracted by the ongoing controversy. He said in a press conference, “Honestly, I haven’t felt anything. The thing about youth that keeps me going is they’re so resilient, first and foremost, and forgiving, nonjudgmental. Just have good spirits and high hopes. So that part of it has been extremely, I don’t want to say refreshing, but encouraging. That part has allowed us to function as normal as possible.
Baylor’s season begins Friday night with a trip to Dallas to play Southern Methodist University. However, the media attention has not been on the Bears’ likelihood of repeating as champions in the Big 12. Instead, the press has focused on the ways that Briles did (or did not) manage his former defensive lineman. Ukwuachu received a sentence of six months in county jail and 10 years of probation for sexually assaulting a former Baylor soccer player. Baylor president Ken Starr issued a statement last Friday calling for outside counsel to perform an internal investigation into the way the university dealt with Ukwuachu.
When asked whether the criticism that the school has received has been justified, Briles said, “Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I’ve never tried to tell anybody what to think or how to think. I’ve just tried to live in a fashion that makes them think a certain way. So to answer whether it’s warranted or unwarranted, I haven’t felt that.” Briles did say that the independent investigation is the right idea. Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw also met with reporters but would not get into specifics of this Ukwachu situation.
Baylor is hiring a staff remember who will be in charge of overseeing the behavior of student-athletes. McCaw said that he has already talked with Ohio State and UNLV, two universities that already have people filling those jobs, to get their input as Baylor puts their own position together. McCaw also said that he was “really pleased” about the decision that he and his fellow ADs in the Big 12 recently made when they unanimously voted to ban member universities from taking transfers from players who have had a history of violent or sexual misconduct.
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