Art Briles while coaching Baylor in 2015

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Bernstein: Art Briles Hiring Another Low Point

Mt. Vernon High in Texas has prioritized football over the safety of its students.

Dan Bernstein
May 28, 2019 - 2:25 pm

(670 The Score) ​​​​​​If Mt. Vernon High School was actually proud to name Art Briles its new head football coach, it wouldn't have announced the news on a Friday evening, especially the one right before Memorial Day weekend. This was a news dump, pretending to be a celebration. And the whole thing is sad and weird.

The school sounded excited enough in its official press release, with superintendent Jason McCullough assuring that the disgraced Baylor coach would help students be their best "both on the field and in life" and revealing that the board's vote was 7-0 in favor of employing and empowering him to run the Tigers football program despite his dark history.

Briles was fired three years ago after both a settled civil lawsuit and a private investigation of allegations of a shocking number of sexual assaults committed by Baylor players on his watch. In one suit, there were 52 rapes by 31 players cited, and a more narrowly scoped inquest conducted by the firm of Pepper Hamilton concluded 19 of his players had sexually assaulted 17 women. Briles' own behavior was condemned as well, a veritable bingo card of victim blaming, victim intimidation, failure to report crimes, failure to vet transfers properly and willful ignorance of Title IX guidelines or disciplinary protocol of any kind.

So McCullough and the school board have now made this very same guy the most important person in Mt. Vernon, Texas.

Because football, and because Texas.

What the motivation is for making such a move is still somewhat unclear, other than the assumption that Briles will improve on the team's 8-4 record last season. The timing of the news is an indication that the school expected some blowback from those of us still able to be aghast at such a thing, as happened when Briles was floated as a coordinator candidate at Southern Mississippi (that attempt by coach Jay Hopson was overrruled by the athletic director) and actually hired by the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats as an assistant (he was summarily fired when people discovered what happened).

This looks like it's going to fly in Mt. Vernon, however, a town of 2,662 in the northeast corner of the state, halfway between Dallas and Texarkana. What we can safely say is that this is the place on the map that cares the least about victims of sexual assault, cares the least about the safety and well-being of its high school community and cares the least about the image it projects to the rest of us.

Art Briles has found the very end of the Earth, and it has found him.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​

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