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Regents should release the full Pepper Hamilton report

The Executive Committee of The Baylor Line Foundation (formerly known as the Baylor Alumni Association) calls on the Baylor Board of Regents to immediately release the full Pepper Hamilton report of its investigation into Baylor’s handling of multiple sexual assault and domestic violence accusations, many of them involving Baylor athletes.

mclane stadium at nightThe Baylor Family deserves an unvarnished, complete accounting of the facts about how these events were handled. The “Findings of Fact” document that Baylor released last week is not a summary of specific facts.  It is a list of conclusions reached by the Baylor Board of Regents.  The Board of Regents is to be commended for acknowledging that the institution bears responsibility for a gut wrenching series of failings.  But without a detailed explanation of the facts, the Board’s release falls far short of the level of transparency that the Baylor Family – and the people directly affected — deserve.

We acknowledge that there are complex legal issues involved in making Pepper Hamilton’s factual findings public. Privacy laws and promises of anonymity made to victim witnesses must be honored. But Baylor has hired sophisticated and experienced lawyers. They are capable of issuing a report that conceals certain students’ and victims’ identities consistent with the law while laying bare the detailed factual findings and the bases of Pepper Hamilton’s recommendations.  The Baylor Board of Regents should immediately release whatever information can legally be shared.

Several high profile Baylor employees have been very publicly removed from their positions. Baylor announced that many others have been fired and that Baylor will not reveal their identities or the reasons.  No Regent has resigned or been removed that we know of.  Releasing a detailed factual report is important to assure the Baylor Family that the right people have been held accountable and that those in power are not using misguided notions of confidentiality to shield their own actions.  Full disclosure is also essential to protect the reputations of those blameless Baylor employees who may wish to depart for other opportunities without a cloud of suspicion over their heads.

founders mall with judge baylor statue

One example that illustrates the need for full disclosure is the Board of Regents’ failure to describe the specific facts that caused Pepper Hamilton to make significant recommendations about Board of Regents structure and behavior.  Pepper Hamilton’s Recommendations include:

  • “Resolve current governance issues at Executive Council and board levels.” (III.1.)
  • “Evaluate and make recommendations regarding board size and composition.” (III.2.)
  • “Review considerations and standards for new board membership, including actual or perceived conflicts of interest, and implement due diligence standards in the selection of board members.” (III.2.)
  • “…train and educate coaches about the need to remain with (in) appropriate reporting protocols and lines of communication when addressing members of the Board of Regents.” (X.7.)

Yet there is nothing in the Board of Regents’ “Findings of Fact” that seems to relate to these board “issues,” “conflicts of interest,” and “reporting protocols and lines of communication” with coaches.  Why not?  The Board of Regents should release the detailed evidence that caused Pepper Hamilton to recommend these changes at the top level of governance at Baylor.

Baylor alumni deserve what Baylor promised when Pepper Hamilton was hired – an independent, frank, and candid investigative report that addresses both past practices and forward-looking recommendations.  Baylor must ensure everyone understands the totality of what occurred, and the steps taken to make sure it never happens again.

Photo credits (McLane Stadium and Pat Neff Hall): University.

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20 thoughts on “Regents should release the full Pepper Hamilton report”

  1. Bette McCall Miller

    This call for true transparency has my 100% support. Regents have been operating behind closed doors & under oath of silence for far too long. They oversee Baylor as a trust for the people of Texas. The university is not their private property!

  2. Ward O. Hayworth

    The board members in charge of compliance and audit should resign. If there was no Board committee in charge of compliance and audit, board leadership should resign. A corporate board has obligations to shareholders. The Baylor Board of Regents has obligations to Alumni and financial supporters of the University. This unfortunate situation has been handled by the Board without a workable strategy and the results have been disastrous. Factions within the Board have breached their duty to the University by leaking information to the press in a manner to support their political agendas. Our leadership has made a bad situation much worse.

  3. I fully support the call for full disclosure and transparency. Policy is one of the three major fiduciary obligations of the Board. If Title IX policies were inadequate, then the buck stops with the Board.

  4. Airing our “dirty laundry” to the public is counterproductive.
    As a Christian organization, we should ask “What would Jesus do”
    For those of us who are legacy Baylor families, this wreaks humiliation and devastation on those who have done good for our Alma Mater.
    I would agree that the information needs to be presented to those affected and to those who can change the course of Thee University.
    For the rest this information is as putrid as pus in a dirty wound – a reaction to the injury – not the cause. “Pride goeth before the fall. “

  5. I agree with Ward Hayworth! Could not have said it better myself!
    Do we think b/c we are a private university we don’t have to comply with the rest of the world & we can sweep everything under the rug without getting caught? We live in a transparent world, social media is alive & well!

  6. I agree with the sentiments expressed in the article. And normally, the governing body should be informed of what the alumni constituent group thinks through a forum like this one.

    But given: (1) the recent litigation; (2) the fact that three BAA/BLF-approved regents are or will shortly be on the board and can say the same thing in the meetings; and (3) the fact that many alums are expressing the same calls for the reports release in other ways, I wish this had not been such a public demand.

  7. Douglas Weiskopf

    I appreciate Dr. Cortes’ observations, but the secretivness and corruption that produced and then infected this wound leaves us no choice. We trusted Baylor leadership to honor Baylor’s Christian heritage, and they have failed.
    The only way to restore honor and trust is to shed pure light on what was done in the darkness.

  8. Russell Trippet

    Great statement. It is imperative the BOR within the law fully disclose what is in the report. We need to know what has really happened, who did what, how it happened, and how Baylor got into this mess. Once we know the facts we can chart a positive path forward. The longer we wait the worse it gets. We also need to be about the business of showing the world the great things Baylor does on a daily basis. We also must remember we have many wonderful student athletes that don’t deserve to be tarnished by the actions of a few bad apples. We need to support these young men and women.

  9. Elaine Edwards Nelson, B. A. 69, J. D. 78

    I totally agree with the need for transparency and the absolute requirement of the release of the full Pepper Hamilton Report.

  10. Sandra Durham Dtephenson

    I agree. It seems like those who have been dismissed should certainly be provided with the full report.

  11. Let’s get the full story. The board of regents is not directly accountable to anybody, and it’s hard for twitter or Baylor Nation to focus outrage on a group of 40 people that aren’t household names.

  12. Sean Gardner, BBA 1994

    I agree with all stated in the request to the Board. They have failed to provide proper governance and oversight. They have been operating in a vacuum and without oversight for their own actions or inactions. They have delivered punishment to others while hiding findings associated with their own failures.

    The Pepper recommendations, written to the Board as the ‘customer’ of the findings, make it crystal clear that the Board the root of the problem. Imagine how much more clear the message would have been if the Board were not the customer of findings.

    The truth must be released. Those responsible must face the music. Such a problem cannot be addressed when the cancer remains. It must be cut out. At minimum, the cancer is every single Administrator who was responsible for implementing and executing the Title IX organization / processes, and every Board member who failed to ensure it was done properly and failed again when multiple victims surfaced. We have to know and they have to go!

    While we’re addressing this catastrophe, we need to launch formal reviews of all high risk processes, assuming as we go into it that more problems will be found. With a failure of something so critical, we must assume other things are a problem requiring a solution.

    The Alumni Association (Foundation) needs to make sure it’s own leadership and governance processes are in order and begin to demonstrate why it’s relavent. Asking the BOR to release facts is step 1 of many and alumni need to get engage to get out ahead of this serious problem.

  13. Jackie Baugh Moore

    The full report should be disclosed.
    Since they set policy, the regents are ultimately responsible for the lack of compliance with Title IX . They also are keepers of the vision and have been responsible for much of the implementation of Baylor 2012 some of which intentionally changed the culture of the university. I believe some of them ( some who rotated off) were intimately involved in the operation of the university as evidenced in released emails from BAA lawsuit. No question they should release the full report with victims names omitted.

  14. It’s time for complete transparency, the board needs to release the report. Those who were abused deserve it, those who were dismissed deserve it and so does Baylor Nation.

  15. On the one hand, I do believe that the report should be released so that the alumni and financial supporters can have a full picture of facts and draw their own conclusions. On the other hand, I shudder to think that the facts could be a Pandora’s box of information that I never want to know about my beloved school or its employees. That being said, the BOR should at the very least release the portions of the report dealing with its own failings and shortcomings, if only to prove they aren’t afraid of transparency shining a light on themselves.

  16. Now the acting president says there is no written report. It was delivered orally. Really? It’s easy to hide things when they’re not written down.

    The BOR is up to its neck in this and they’re hiding their faults while blaming others. They’re crucifying Art Briles without providing evidence of wrong doing. Sound familiar? Pilot said “I find no fault with this man.” The BOR is saying “We find no fault with ourselves.”

  17. Only a full release, full accountability for all involved, completely new policies for students in crisis, new rules for students who have been accused, and new and enforced policies for all employees and administration will get these dark days behind us. Please release the full report and do more than hire a new president and a new coach

  18. David Pickle, BA 1974

    Accusations as strong as those made in the findings of fact require detail. As noted above, almost every administrator near the issue is currently assumed guilty. That is most likely not true, and they deserve for that to be made clear. Even those who appear to have made serious errors should be placed in a situation where they can respond to what they are actually accused of, for better or worse.

  19. Have no relation to Baylor–but their Board is no different than any other school. There is an arrogance to all these institutions that continue to operate in a cloak of secrecy. Why? Because that is how they operate in their daily lives. Board members are oftentimes like their school’s athletes–entitled, pampered and self-absorbed. They do not want the public to be aware of their shortcomings. Baylor portrays itself as a Christian University on their website. Prove it.

  20. W. Craig Wells Class ’84

    The Baylor Board of Directors needs to release the entire report! No more hiding in the darkness!! This event has the potential to destroy our University… we need transparency and accountability and perhaps even vindication for ALL involved. The details of the report can be released without the specific victims information being release… it time for the BOR to do the right thing and RELEASE THE REPORT!!!

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