WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor coach Art Briles said Monday that his team isn't distracted by the school president's call for an independent investigation into the handling of a sexual assault complaint against former transfer Sam Ukwuachu.
Speaking publicly for the first time since Ken Starr recommended an outside investigator review the case, Briles said, "I think that's good."
Other than that, Briles said he and his fourth-ranked Bears are focused on Friday night's opener at SMU.
"Honestly, I haven't felt anything," Briles said, when asked about outside distractions. "The thing about youth that keeps me going, and keeps other people going that have the opportunity to be around youth, is that they're resilient, first and foremost, forgiving, non-judgmental.
"(They) just have good spirits and high hopes," he said. "That part of it has allowed us to try to function as normally as possible."
Starr made his proposal Friday, after reviewing the results of the internal inquiry of the sexual assault case against Ukwuachu, who was sentenced Aug. 21 to six months in jail and 10 years of probation for assaulting a Baylor women's soccer player. At his trial, his former girlfriend at Boise State testified he hit and choked her.
A Baylor official testified during the trial in a state district court that the school investigated the former soccer player's complaint but didn't find enough evidence "to move forward."
Ukwuachu started 12 games at defensive end as a freshman at Boise State in 2012, but was dismissed from the team in spring of 2013 for unspecified disciplinary reasons. He transferred to Baylor in his home state and sat out the 2013 season as required by NCAA rules. He did not play in 2014, either.
Boise State did not at the time specify why Ukwuachu was dismissed, but the school issued a statement last week that allegations by his girlfriend that he assaulted her when they were students there were never reported to school officials. The statement said accusations of physical violence against women were not a reason for his dismissal.
Ian McCaw, Baylor's athletic director, said Monday that his department is "fully supportive" of an external investigation and that he has "full confidence" in Briles.
Starr also has proposed the creation of a new position at the athletic department to monitor the behavior of the university athletes, and that person would report directly to the school president. McCaw said he looked forward to working with Starr and school regents in defining specific responsibilities for the new staff member.
McCaw said every Baylor athlete went through Title IX violence prevention training during August, and that it was the first time for that.
While the Bears prepare for arguably the most anticipated season in school history, with their highest-ever preseason ranking after consecutive Big 12 Conference titles, there has been plenty of criticism concerning the Ukwuachu case.
"Everybody's entitled to an opinion. I've never tried to tell anybody what to think, or how to think," Briles said. "So to answer whether it's warranted or unwarranted, I haven't felt that, or thought about it."