The Big 12 Conference finally penalized Baylor on Wednesday.
Only, it really didn’t.
The headline — “Big 12 to withhold 25 percent of Baylor revenues” — sounds great. On the surface.
Upon deeper inspection, the Big 12’s decision to hang onto a portion of the future dollars earmarked for Waco comes on as little more than grandstanding, a hollow threat.
My Further Review co-host, Lauren Rew, came up with a perfect analogy:
Baylor is the kid who keeps misbehaving. The Big 12 is the parent who finally gets fed up dealing with the family shame.
The Big 12 tells little Baylor, “I’m gonna take away one fourth of your toys (or video games or comic books or whatever). And when you improve your attitude and do your chores and finish your homework, you can have them back.”
The 25 percent of Baylor’s revenue share that the Big 12 Board of Directors intends to withhold amounts to about $6 million.
But if Baylor meets all the conditions set forth by an independent review — a review that supposedly will demand sweeping procedural changes regarding how the school handled multiple sexual assault allegations and Title IX violations in recent years — then Baylor gets back all the money it’s owed.
The money in question — which hasn’t even been distributed to the schools yet — reportedly will be kept in an escrow account until which time Baylor makes its bed and picks up its room and takes out the trash (OK, that last metaphor actually works pretty well).
Baylor president David Garland, who calls the Big 12’s announcement “an unexpected financial event,” says of the 105 reforms recommended in the damning Pepper Hamilton report, 80 to 90 already have been met.
Just need to take my socks to the hamper and hang up my shirts and I’ll be finished mom!
What kind of penalty is that?
The Big 12’s punishment lacks any real discipline.
The league doesn’t want to punish Baylor, it just wants to correct the school’s behavior — which, thanks to public shaming from the neighbors (ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”), a visit from the local constable (several players already are serving time) and an intervention from the principal’s office (Pepper Hamilton) already has been largely corrected.
Just look at the short leash the school’s new administration had with new strength coach Brandon Washington, who was immediately fired when he was arrested this week in a prostitution sting.
Once again, the Big 12 missed the mark.
Instead of finally getting “tough” long after the mess is mostly cleaned up, the league should have exercised its parental rights and punished Baylor with a reduction of scholarships and a lasting financial penalty.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says there’s no precedent or ground rules by which to so punish Baylor, but isn’t that the point? This is the Big 12’s opportunity to set the precedent, to lay the ground rules.
Such a show of authority likely permanently fixes the problems in Waco, but it also sends a strong message to other schools — in the Big 12 and elsewhere — that if you turn a blind eye to criminal behavior and let your football team terrorize its campus, there will be real, meaningful penalties.
There will be consequences for your actions.
Isn’t that what parents should be teaching their kids?
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard on The Franchise Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. every weekday with co-host Lauren Rew and most mornings on The Franchise in Oklahoma City. Listen on fm107.9, am1270 on the 107.7 Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.