In the fall of 2015, we wrote about the Baylor football program and how they were not managing their negative publicity. The problem was that a student had transferred into the program despite a prior accusation of assault. When that student was convicted of sexual assault while at Baylor, many people questioned how much Head Coach Art Briles knew about the athlete’s past. But since Briles himself wasn’t accused of anything illegal, the team’s problem basically seemed to be a branding issue. The players were having success on the field and, after a while, many forgot about the negative stories.
As it turns out, Baylor doesn’t have a branding issue; it has an ongoing reluctance to deal with sexual assault accusations. That is much more serious. The latest story is that in 2013, a woman reported being sexually assaulted by two Baylor football players. Since she declined to press charges, the police did not investigate, but the college did—two years after the fact, and only when the woman came forward to ask how the legally required investigation was proceeding. Both players have since been suspended.
There are two ways to look at the situation; either the accused men are guilty, in which case the college spent two years protecting rapists, or the men are innocent and have been wrongly suspended, their reputations trashed—the two-year delay was enough time to degrade evidence they could have used to defend themselves. Either way, Baylor’s reluctance to act has hurt people.
What’s the final score?
No one doubts Art Briles has a terrific football mind. So why did he and his program fail? Because the short-term gain from keeping quiet was too much to pass up. It’s terrible for the students, the fans, the kids that play for Baylor. It’s terrible for the Big 12 Conference, the state of Texas, and anyone impacted by the actions of the few.
The same thing happens in business; choose the expedient thing over the right thing and your bad decision can impact partners, shareholders, employees, and clients.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Think and consult with others before making a decision that could cost you everything. If you are not sure, then think of Art Briles, the former football coach of the Baylor Bears.