IRVING (AP) – New Baylor president Linda Livingstone spent her first official day on the job Thursday at the Big 12 spring meetings.
On Friday, the league’s board of directors will get an update from Baylor on how the university is progressing with implementation of 105 recommendations for reforming its Title IX process. Those came in the wake of a campus sexual assault scandal that led to the departures last year of the school’s former president, athletic director and two-time Big 12 champion football coach Art Briles.
“We absolutely recognize that this is a long-term effort to work through these issues. We’re deeply committed to doing so,” Livingstone said. “There’s clearly already been so much work to address all of the 105 recommendations from the Pepper Hamilton information. … We recognize that every single day we will be working on these issues.”
Livingstone said the Title IX issues weren’t brought up during her first meeting Thursday with the fellow Big 12 presidents and chancellors who make up the board. She said she looked forward to the opportunity Friday to introduce herself, and the opportunity to provide an update on her views of the university and what is being done.
The Big 12 earlier this year said it would withhold 25 percent of future revenue distribution payments to Baylor. A $10 million payout for part of 2016-17 had already been distributed to Baylor, and the league expects Friday to announce a total payout of about $34 million for each of its 10 schools. The league will withhold 25 percent of the remaining projected $24 million payout — or about $6 million this year.
Baylor is not being fined; the money is being placed in escrow pending a third-party verification of reform efforts at the world’s largest Baptist university.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the league has hired law attorney Janet P. Judge to do the third-party verification on behalf of the league, a process that started only within the past couple of weeks. Judge helped author an NCAA manual on gender equity.
Asked about a timetable for that verification, Bowlsby said there was not one because the process isn’t an investigation.
Livingstone said Baylor is in the process of completing its own internal audit, and has commissioned an external audit as well. She anticipates the university being able to share with the Big 12 a complete report with supporting documentation by the end of June.
Baylor faces at least six federal and state lawsuits as well as a federal civil rights investigation into claims the school and football program ignored, mishandled or tried to cover up reports of sexual or physical abuse and other criminal misdeeds across campus for years.
Bowlsby said his first impressions of Livingstone “are exceedingly good.” He also spoke highly of new Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades and new football coach Matt Rhule.
“I believe that they are on a path to set things right,” Bowlsby said. “We’re a long way from being finished with the process, but we couldn’t ask for them to be any more cooperative and I couldn’t be any more pleased with the leadership of the university.”
David Boren, Oklahoma’s president who serves as the Big 12 board chairman, said the entire board shared enthusiasm for Livingstone.
“She is very much, I think, determined to live up to the best possible values of the Big 12,” Boren said. “And I think she’s not going to waste any time trying to set things on a good path. We have a lot of confidence in her.”
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