KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has been under fire for a growing sexual assault scandal involving its football team. Two former football players have already been convicted of sexual assault, a third player's trial is scheduled for the spring, and even more allegations have emerged in recent weeks. Both Baylor's president, Ken Starr, and its football coach, Art Briles, were forced out after an investigation last year. Today the university was formally sanctioned by its athletic conference, the Big 12. Just a word of warning, the details of this scandal are not appropriate for all listeners.
NPR's Wade Goodwyn is covering this and joins us now from Dallas. Hey, Wade.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Hello.
MCEVERS: So this story keeps on growing. I mean, first let's talk about what happened today. What exactly did the Big 12 board of directors do and why?
GOODWYN: Well, they're temporarily withholding future revenue payments from the conference to the university pending a review of the school's athletic program to make sure the university is making all the changes the conference wants them to make in the wake of the rape scandal. We're talking I guess somewhere around $7 million, which would be put into an account. And if the conference is then satisfied that Baylor's lived up to these commitments, Baylor gets the money back. The university has responded that it's already taking meaningful corrective action to address what it describes as, quote, "troubling incidents."
MCEVERS: So catch us up on this situation. I mean, where did it all start?
GOODWYN: Yeah, I think a little of the backstory will help. So for more than a year, there's been these accusations of football players raping Baylor students and that the coaches, the athletic department and the university administration were all covering these up. So Baylor hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation, and the result, the report last May, was so devastating that it led to the dismissal of all the football coaches, the athletic director and the university president, Kenneth Starr. You remember Ken Starr...
GOODWYN: ...The former independent counsel during the Monica Lewinsky stuff.
GOODWYN: Anyway, there were a lot of bad elements to this investigation's findings. But perhaps the worst was the way the university sought to diminish these young women who alleged they'd been sexually assaulted and to discourage them from reporting the alleged crimes against them or from defending themselves at university proceedings. This is one of the nation's leading Baptist institutions of higher learning, and its decision to prioritize the defense of its highly successful football team at the expense of these young women students was a bit of a betrayal, I would think.
MCEVERS: I mean, the allegations have grown substantially. As many as 19 players are now said to be involved with several instances of gang rape. I mean, bring us up to speed on the latest developments.
GOODWYN: That's right. At the end of January, a Baylor graduate - this was, like, two weeks ago - filed a lawsuit alleging she was gang raped by football players and that more than 31 players have perpetrated more than 50 instances of rape between 2011 and 2014. And the suit detailed how underage high school recruits were taken to strip bars and had sex with escorts during their visits to Waco. And then on Friday, Baylor itself threw gasoline on the fire when they released these text messages that appear to show the football coaches and the athletic director conspiring to protect the football players.
And in one exchange, the head coach texts the athletic director and explains the Waco Police Department is going to keep the arrest of a football player who's in their custody for assaulting and threatening to kill another student away from the media. And then athletic director Ian McCaw texts back to Coach Briles and says, that would be great if they could keep it quiet, exclamation point.
MCEVERS: So wait a minute - what happens next?
GOODWYN: It's unclear whether the NCAA will take any action regarding this. As far as justice for the young women who've been the victims of the alleged crimes, I think it looks like it's going to be up to those women's lawyers to get any sort of justice for them.
MCEVERS: NPR's Wade Goodwyn. Thank you very much.
GOODWYN: You're quite welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.