Public Backlash Major Influence in CFL Sacking of Art Briles

After public backlash, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a Canadian Football League team, backtracked on its decision to hire former Baylor football coach Art Briles. Briles had been fired from Baylor University in May 2016 after an investigation revealed that the university mishandled sexual assault allegations against football players.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats CEO cited an underestimated “tsunami of negativity” from fans and the media, mainly in the U.S., as the main reason the hiring decision was quickly reversed the same day. The CEO also stated he believed Briles deserved a second chance. Former NHL star Theo Fleury, who was sexually abused by his junior coach, tweeted: “[i]f you knew and didn’t say anything then you are just as much a part of rape as the people who committed rape. Shame on #CFL.” One of the team’s sponsors also denounced Briles’ hiring, saying “Mr. Briles may or may not have a valid coaching track record, but to choose the chance of winning football over the importance of values goes beyond our core values and is absolutely not acceptable.”

The investigation by law firm Pepper Hamilton revealed that the Baylor sexual assault scandal was widespread. Former Baylor player Tevin Elliot was convicted in 2014 of raping student Jasmin Hernandez. Hernandez reached a settlement with the school in a federal Title IX lawsuit, and so far, four other women have also filed Title IX lawsuits alleging sexual or physical assaults. The school also reached settlements with three other students who said they were sexually assaulted.

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