Baylor waiting for closure on infractions
Baylor would have liked a resolution to the NCAA investigation into its football program last summer.
Now, the school may have to wait until late this summer or longer for closure because of the coronavirus outbreak. Appearances before the Committee on Infractions are on hold through at least May 31, the NCAA announced earlier this month.
When Baylor will have its hearing and when it will later learn what penalties, if any, it faces from what occurred during the Art Briles era is unclear.
"I think everyone wants to know," athletic director Mack Rhoades said in an interview this week. "At this point in time, I can honestly say it's something I can't answer because I don't have the answer. We're waiting for whenever that time is and will be prepared to do what we need to do when that time comes."
It's been nearly four years since Baylor fired Briles in the wake of a school-funded investigation into the handling of sexual assault allegations by the football program. The NCAA notice of allegations specifically cited Baylor for a lack of institutional control.
Since then, the process has dragged on. For a while, Baylor thought its case might be transferred to the new NCAA Independent Accountability Resolution Process for select cases. Eventually, Baylor stayed in the traditional infractions track.
Rhoades has for the most part kept his silence despite the delays.
But with the hiring of Dave Aranda, Baylor is on its third head football coach since Briles, who landed at Mount Vernon High School last season.
"It's time for this to be finished and completed," Rhoades said. "I know everybody involved with it, including the NCAA, feels the same way."
In a wide-ranging interview Tuesday, on the same day Baylor announced major university-wide budget cuts, Rhoades touched on a couple of other topics:
The adjustment of Aranda: The former LSU defensive coordinator has yet to get on the field with his new team because of the COVID-19 cancellation of spring practice.
"We were kind of laughing on Saturday, when we were talking about what a way to start his first head coach job," Rhoades said. "He's handling it well. He's doing a great job. He and the staff are doing the best they can to stay connected with our young men."
Rhoades noted that Aranda has brought in several guest speakers to address his players via video conferencing, including Baylor legend Grant Teaff.
The cancellation of March Madness: "I think initially at the moment and a few days after, it was really hard. You really felt for your seniors," Rhoades said. "They weren't going to have an opportunity to play postseason."
Both the Baylor women and men were viewed as legitimate NCAA championship contenders, with the women's program coming off a title in 2019.
"I felt terrible for Coach (Kim) Mulkey," Rhoades said. "Now all of a sudden the opportunity to defend your national championship is taken away from you. And Coach (Scott) Drew, finishing up the best regular season he's ever had. This opportunity to more than likely be a No. 1 seed and the potential to get beyond the Elite Eight.
"It was a tough time, but I'm proud of the way our coaches and staff and student-athletes handled it and managed it."
The added year of eligibility for spring sport senior athletes: Rhoades said Baylor will honor the scholarships.
The school should know within the next week which seniors plan to take advantage of the extra year, Rhoades said. Baylor has set aside an estimated cost of $1 million in the budget for the additional scholarships, Rhoades said.