By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – The Big 12 athletics conference decided on Wednesday to withhold a portion of the revenue due to Texas’ Baylor University as it checks reforms implemented at the world’s largest Baptist college in response to sexual assaults by it athletes.
The university has been rocked by scandals for more than a year over whether it failed to do enough to prevent and investigate sexual assaults against women by football players and others. The scandals, which coincide with growing outrage over sexual assault on U.S. college campuses, led to the ouster of the school’s president and its football coach.
The college athletics conference’s board of directors voted unanimously to withhold 25 percent of future revenue distribution payments to Baylor pending the outcome of a third-party review of its reforms, the conference said.
“By taking these actions the Board desires to ensure that the changes that were promised are actually made and that systems are in place to avoid future problems,” David Boren, University of Oklahoma president and Big 12 Conference Board of Directors chairman, said in a statement.
The decision to withhold funds came after Baylor’s new strength and conditioning coach was arrested on Feb. 4 on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute. Baylor said in a statement it has fired the coach for conduct contradictory to the university’s values.
In a statement on Wednesday, Baylor University’s Interim President David Garland said the school “took unprecedented corrective actions that led to leadership changes within the University administration and athletic department.”
He added the decision to withhold conference distributions was unexpected but he did not see it as having an impact on the university’s financial position.
Local media reports said Baylor was likely to lose around $7.6 million.
Alumni groups for the Waco, Texas university have criticized Baylor for what they say is a lack of transparency about the sexual scandals that have come as its men’s football and basketball teams have become conference powerhouses.
The U.S. Department of Education last year launched an investigation into Baylor University’s response to sexual violence on campus.
Last May, Baylor ousted Kenneth Starr as university president and Art Briles as its football coach after an independent report found that administrators mishandled sexual abuse cases involving football players.
Starr, the former independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton during his presidency, has said he was unaware of what was happening at the school but still accepted responsibility.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Andrew Hay)