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Baylor Coaches Stick Up for Fired Head Coach

WACO, Texas (CN) - Baylor University's assistant football coaches fired back at regents' statements that head coach Art Briles was fired for failing to report claims of a gang rape by football players, saying he urged the victim to report it to police.

Thirty-three members of Briles' former coaching staff signed the statement, including his son, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett.

Absent was the signature of Briles' replacement, interim head coach Jim Grobe.

Briles, former Baylor President Ken Starr and former athletic director Ian McCaw are no longer with the school after Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton released a damning review in May of how the school bungled several reports of sexual assaults by students, particularly those involving football players.

While quick to remove Briles, Starr and McCaw, Baylor's Board of Regents refused to fire Briles' assistant coaches, whom Grobe inherited.

The regents endured months of criticism for refusing to release a full report detailing all of Pepper Hamilton's findings. Their silence ended on Oct. 28 when regents told The Wall Street Journal that Briles knew about one of the alleged rapes and failed to inform police, Baylor's judicial affairs office or the school's Title IX coordinator.

The regents said 17 women have reported sexual or domestic assaults by at least 19 football players since 2011, including four gang rapes.

In response to additional statements regents made to The Dallas Morning News on Nov. 3, the coaches released a statement on Twitter on Nov. 4. They claim Briles told the victim's head sport coach "to report it to the police and prosecute the players if there was any wrongdoing."

The assistant coaches said the alleged victim was also a student-athlete and that her head coach was the direct respondent in the situation, that she reported the rape to him first. In their Twitter post, the coaches refer to her "head sport coach" as HSC.

"The 'HSC' reported to his superior (athletic director Ian McCaw)," the tweet states. "Athletic director told 'HSC' to report to judicial affairs, which he did (no Title IX office at the time). 'HSC' told Art Briles there was an incident involving football players and the alleged victim 9 months after the alleged incident occurred." (Parentheses as in tweet.)

The assistant coaches said the unidentified coach of the victim said, "I think Coach Briles handled the manner honorably and with the serious attention it deserved."

The tweet continued: "'HSC' also stated that Art Briles followed up and 'HSC' informed Briles that alleged victim did not want to report. The 'HSC' was the direct respondent in this situation. Art Briles never had any communication with the alleged victim."

The football team and its supporters faced heavy criticism last weekend for choosing to wear all black in an unofficial tribute to Briles during their 62-22 loss to Texas Christian University. Posts on social media showed fans outside of McLane Stadium selling clothing emblazoned with #CAB, short for Coach Art Briles, in support of the former coach. Banners of the hashtag were seen hanging inside the stadium during the game.

Only two Baylor football players have been convicted of sexual assault. Tevin Elliott was sentenced in January 2014 to 20 years in state prison on each of two counts of sexual assault. Sam Ukwuashu was sentenced in August 2015 to 180 days in county jail, 10 years of probation and 400 hours of community service on one count of sexual assault.

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