Stop comparing what happened at Baylor to the Tennessee Title IX lawsuit.
But that’s okay because I’m about to explain exactly why these two situations are different. I’ll try to make it as simple as possible, though, if you feel compelled to dive deeper, you can view the entire 64-page lawsuit here and the full report on Baylor here.
Let’s get into it…
1. Tennessee’s coaches and administrators took action, Baylor’s did not
For some reason, many people not familiar with the UT lawsuit seem to think that it’s an incontrovertible fact that Butch Jones was negligent, covered up crimes, and allowed players accused of sexual assault to run rampant in his football program.
This assumption is totally false.
Unlike Baylor coaches and administrators, who, according to the Pepper Hamilton Report, allowed players accused of serious crimes to continue playing football and even retaliated against a victim in one instance, Tennessee coaches actually took actions when players were charged with crimes. When star UT linebacker A.J. Johnson was accused of sexual assault, he was suspended even before he was charged. Vols wide receiver Von Pearson was suspended immediately after being named a suspect in a sexual assault case. Tennessee transfer player Alexis Johnson was suspended the day after he was arrested for aggravated assault.
Jones and UT may not be completely innocent of what they have been accused of in this lawsuit but at the very least, we know they are willing to take disciplinary actions that those in charge at Baylor were not.
2. There has been no smoking gun evidence in the Tennessee lawsuit that will get Butch Jones fired
After Thursday’s news, people screamed for Butch Jones to be fired like Art Briles. Okay, let’s be clear, Baylor is certainly not the only football program in America doing the things that were found in its investigative report, they are just the program that got caught. I say this to point out that it is completely possible that Tennessee has done some of the things Baylor did, but thus far, there has simply been no evidence to support that assertion.
The only evidence that has been unearthed that shows in any way that Tennessee may be guilty of misdeeds are the words of complainants in a lawsuit, phone records that show nothing except the fact that phone calls occurred, and a list of lawyer names that is purportedly given to UT players when they are accused of crimes. I already took the time to talk to an attorney about why that “lawyer list” is wholly irrelevant and you can read that here if you’re interested.
Unless some new evidence comes to light that shows beyond a reasonable doubt that Butch Jones actually did something untoward, he’s fine. He should not be given the same fate as Art Briles because, as far as we and the administrators at UT currently know, Jones and his staff have done nothing wrong.
3. You can’t compare allegations in a lawsuit to third-party investigative findings
This is the most important element. Tennessee has been accused of things in a lawsuit that was filed by eight women whose goal is to show that UT and its athletic department broke Title IX rules and created a “hostile sexual environment.” Baylor hired a third-party law firm (Pepper Hamilton) to conduct an independent investigation of the inner workings of its football program and that investigation found deplorable, systemic problems in the way coaches and administrators handled crimes committed by players. Those are two VERY different things.
Pepper Hamilton had no outside motivation to find Baylor’s extensive wrongdoings while the plaintiffs in the UT lawsuit have a monetary interest in proving Tennessee’s guilt. The Baylor report shows evidence and facts that a thorough investigation uncovered. The UT lawsuit contains only accusations.
Please, stop comparing these two situations.
As I said above, UT very well may not be innocent, but one thing is certain: What is happening in Knoxville is nothing like the meltdown unfolding in Waco.