I don’t need to rehash the details or the timelines, the necessary foundation has been laid for this conversation elsewhere and there is no need for me to go into the gritty and horrific details of the Sam Ukwuachu verdict. With that aside, let’s get right down to what you don’t want to hear.
Irresponsible. This is the word that should be imprinted across any clear thinking individual’s brain when taking in every single aspect of this tragedy. This word applies to Baylor, Texas Monthly, Kevin Sherrington, Grantland, Pat Forde, Geoff Ketchum, ESPN, and the mindless twitter hive that in 2015, has become both judge and jury in the court of public opinion while reacting in real time without all of the facts.
Here’s what the entire state of Texas, and the nation at large doesn’t want to hear: while pushing the responsibility squarely onto Art Briles shoulders, you are doing the very thing you have accused Baylor of doing: putting football above simple morality and rational thinking. This has not been a “he said, he said” situation at any point as can be laid out by very easy to find and clear facts.
Fact #1: Art Briles‘ and Chris Petersen‘s statements complement each other, they don’t oppose each other. They don’t unequivocally align and say the same thing, but there is not a single bit of true contradiction in their public statements without taking a leap of inference.
Fact #2: Until the trial that occurred last week, according to the very woman Ukwuachu hit, no one knew that he had done so. His mother didn’t know, the Boise police department didn’t know. No one knew.
Fact #3: Baylor has both an email, and a form from the Boise State athletic department that undeniably absolves Baylor of possibly knowing about a “violent past.”
Fact #4: Sam Ukwuachu’s high school football coach is on record confirming that he heard the exact same thing from Boise State that was written in Art Briles’ statement.
Fact #5: Boise State denies rumors it knew about Sam Ukwuachu’s violent past.
Now, allow me to give you the facts that would be admissible in a court of law that could say Art Briles knew about Sam Ukwuachu’s violent nature towards women.
Should I continue?
At this point, I’ve probably lost the majority of you. I’m bound to be hounded for being a Baylor apologist, but the worst part of it is you will have no basis of fact which means: you have made this about football. You may be a fan of another team, or a fan of an agenda where – in the realm of normal sports, it is absolutely permissible for you to have unfounded distaste for opponents because it makes competition fun. However, this is. not. about. football. We cannot be irresponsible. We cannot afford to be.
If after reviewing the evidence, you find that Art Briles is the reason that a young woman was made a victim of a horrific crime, you have been irresponsible. Your own investigation into this is as lackluster as Baylor’s internal investigation which, if I’m being generous, was borderline incompetent. Given the known tendency of multiple (if not all) institutions to give preferential treatment to athletes, it can likely be inferred (which I truly do not want to do, as you can see above that I prefer facts to biased inferences) that the internal investigation made this, in part, about football. Your need to put this on Art Briles makes this about football. You cannot separate the two. You cannot on one hand claim to be for truth and justice while ignoring what is readily available to inform you of a denied reality.
So if this isn’t about football, what is it about?
This is about the need to overhaul, not just at Baylor, how we think and approach the subject of rape. It is about being truly about truth, no matter how difficult it may be to accept. If I am going to treat the football team with statements like “We are gonna be good again this year” then I must use the same terminology when talking about the University as a whole. At Baylor, we failed. We failed the victim in multiple ways. While we cannot control the actions of another human being, we can do better, and we can certainly do better in addressing a cry of distress from one of our own. There is a reason the movement is “It’s on us” and not “It’s on me” or “It’s on football coaches.”
We are the people who need to stop seeing sports first, and instead: truth.
We are the people who need to stop seeing athletes as above the law, and instead: truth.
We are the people who need to stop reacting without facts, and instead: with truth.
At Baylor, the Immortal Ten memorial is inscribed: “For they are the we of us.”
Everyone associated with Baylor needs to take that to heart today and all days. The women at Baylor, in Waco, in Texas, in America are the we of us. We must do better. We must not be irresponsible.