Mount Vernon ISD superintendent admits no one spoke with Baylor victims before hiring Art Briles

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The superintendent of the school district that hired disgraced former Baylor football head coach Art Briles defended the district’s decision in a brief interview with media members on Tuesday.

Briles was named head football coach at Mount Vernon High School late Friday and was signed for a two-year contract. Briles was fired from Baylor in 2016 after an investigation found that, during his tenure, at least 17 women had been sexually assaulted by 19 Baylor football players.

Mount Vernon ISD quickly became the object of national derision for its decision to let Briles return to coaching. MVISD Superintendent Jason McCullough admitted Tuesday in a three-minute media session that nobody from Mount Vernon talked with any of the Baylor sexual assault victims during the vetting process.

“The vetting process we went through is we talked to people who know him personally and who were involved in that and some who we are not able to name at this time,” McCullough said. “But we really believe that the process we went through was one that our community would be proud of and one that we know that we did our job with.”

When asked if they spoke to any NCAA officials about Briles, McCullough said the district only spoke with former Baylor coach Grant Teaff. Teaff was never an NCAA employee.

“As we went into this process, we knew it was going to come with some negativity and some attention. I can tell you that we believe in our community,” McCullough said. “We believe in our kids and we believe in the parents we have. We believe the process we went through that we had vetted this person. We vetted Coach Briles to the best of our ability.”

McCullough ended the news conference after just a few minutes.

“I appreciate your time. Thanks so much. I have other places to be,” he said as he walked away while reporters were still asking questions.

Rogge Dunn is a Dallas attorney who represented multiple people who challenged Baylor University in the scandal. That includes Patty Crawford, a former title 9 coordinator who stepped down after she said the university stood in her way.

“He’s basically said I reported it up the chain and then I washed my hands of it,” Dunn said. “Well, a true leader, someone who truly cared about these issues, would take action. And certainly, Art Briles was in a position to take action. Until you admit you're at fault, you really can't take the next step towards redemption.”

Briles, now 63, had lots of success on the field at Baylor. But on his watch, a sexual assault scandal rocked the school and Briles has claimed he was not aware of the problem.

Since being forced out at Baylor, he's had trouble finding a job. He’s currently concluding a coaching stint overseas in Italy. Before being hired in Mount Vernon, he tried to get a job at Southern Miss earlier this year but a backlash led administrators to halt the process.

He previously won four state titles at Stephenville High School. Mount Vernon is a 3A school in a town of about 2,600.