Baylor University Athletic Director Ian McCaw came to Waco in the aftermath of one of the ugliest scandals in college athletics. He leaves in the middle of another one.
McCaw was hired in 2003 after Baylor’s basketball scandal, when student-athlete Patrick Dennehy was shot dead near a gravel pit and his former teammate, Carlton Dotson, was accused, eventually pleaded guilty and received a 35-year sentence for the murder.
But that was only part of the story, as head basketball coach Dave Bliss encouraged his staff to portray Dennehy as a drug dealer to save his own job and reputation. Bliss eventually resigned after an assistant coach taped Bliss’ conversations and exposed the coverup.
In the wake of that mess, McCaw came in to add respect and integrity to the program and watched head coach Scott Drew lead the basketball team to 20-win seasons, NCAA Elite Eight appearances and an NIT Championship.
It’s ironic, then, that another scandal, this time involving Baylor football, is forcing McCaw out.
During McCaw’s tenure, Baylor won four national team championships and 56 Big 12 Conference titles. He oversaw the construction of a new football stadium to hold the growing fan base for a program that had been in the basement of the conference most of its existence but now was a powerhouse with a Heisman Trophy winner to brag about.
But when an independent study exposed Baylor’s handling (or not handling) of sexual assault cases, many of which involved football players, the university decided to act quickly, suspending football coach Art Briles with intent to fire, demoting president Ken Starr and suspending McCaw. In lieu of accepting the suspension, McCaw chose to resign, but not before bringing in former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe as interim football coach.
Every time after a college football scandal, we ask whether this time will be the last time it happens before universities crack down. We asked after Florida State; we asked after Penn State. So far, football programs, albeit the main source of revenue for athletic departments, more often than not prove to be more powerful than the university’s administration. This time, Baylor’s Board of Regents made the decision to remove a very successful coach and begin the process to repair yet another program’s reputation.
Baylor was able to do so after the basketball scandal; it’s yet to be seen whether the school can do it again for its football program.